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Portumna a force to be reckoned with

Eugene McEntee

By Jim O’Sullivan
BEWARE - that’s the clear message for the Cork and Munster champions after Portumna’s highly impressive victory over holders James Stephens last Sunday.

James Stephens manager Adrian Finan is one of many who agrees they have the potential to go all the way on March 17.

"To be honest, if Newtownshandrum are able to stop them, fair play to them," he says.

Finan admitted he wasn’t surprised by their level of skill, saying they were well aware of their reputation.

"They had a number of challenge matches down in Kilkenny and anybody who played them was hugely impressed, pointing them out as potential All-Ireland winners."

Portumna captain Eugene McEntee is quite upbeat about his side’s prospects, pointing out that they have already met Newtown.

"We have a point to prove to them that we are as good as they are. We know what’s ahead of us and that an even bigger effort will be required.

"This game will bring us on a lot. The boys will be on a high for the next couple of days, but everyone deserves that. We have lads who will be able to steady the ship when it comes to the final. We knew we were ready and were good enough to take on the best - and James Stephens were the best. We put a marker down to say that Portumna hurling and Galway hurling is on a rise.

"We knew that if we ran at them, we had the hurlers to match them in different positions. It was the same when Galway played Kilkenny last year. You run at them, you hook them, you block them, you chase the ball and you move it fast. And, it showed on Sunday. The fast ball, first-time hurling and pure grit were the difference."

Ollie Canning rejects the notion that they took Dunloy for granted at the time.

"They beat us fair and square on the day,’’ he says. "But we are definitely a better team now. We just need to keep our feet on the ground. A lot of work to be done yet before Patrick’s Day."

Canning, the eldest of four brothers in the team (with another among the substitutes), is one of several players who moved positions after the county final win over Loughrea. Moving from midfield, he took over the left corner-position previously occupied by Aidan O’Donnell; Eoin Lynch, one of their stars at midfield on Sunday, had been more accustomed to playing either at half-back or in the full-back line.

Canning and fellow Allstar Damien Hayes both opted out of the trip to Singapore last month to concentrate on the club championship.

Hayes said yesterday that it was a small sacrifice: "You just have to have respect for the other panel members of 37. It was an easy decision to make not to travel. When we got beaten by Dunloy I thought we’d be back the following year but Athenry beat us in the county final.

"Our aim now is to emulate the like of Sarsfields, Athenry, Castlegar and Kiltormer (who have all won the All-Ireland)."

Sean Treacy says Portumna had been "envious" of the other Galway clubs which had contested finals, but they never gave up hope.

"We felt that some day it might be our turn. We got caught two years ago but this time, the guys made a commitment to one another - that whatever about the result they would not let themselves down. And it was reflected in the way they played.

"Call a spade a spade. Newtownshandrum only won by a point, but you’d have been saying it was going to be them in the final and whoever was going to be coming out of our side. They’ll be raging hot favourites.

"They have players all over the field with inter-county experience and All-Ireland medals in their pocket. We don’t have that. But, what we do have is a savage hunger and hopefully we’ll match them. And match them well."

 

Portumna a force to be reckoned with

Eugene McEntee

By Jim O’Sullivan
BEWARE - that’s the clear message for the Cork and Munster champions after Portumna’s highly impressive victory over holders James Stephens last Sunday.

James Stephens manager Adrian Finan is one of many who agrees they have the potential to go all the way on March 17.

"To be honest, if Newtownshandrum are able to stop them, fair play to them," he says.

Finan admitted he wasn’t surprised by their level of skill, saying they were well aware of their reputation.

"They had a number of challenge matches down in Kilkenny and anybody who played them was hugely impressed, pointing them out as potential All-Ireland winners."

Portumna captain Eugene McEntee is quite upbeat about his side’s prospects, pointing out that they have already met Newtown.

"We have a point to prove to them that we are as good as they are. We know what’s ahead of us and that an even bigger effort will be required.

"This game will bring us on a lot. The boys will be on a high for the next couple of days, but everyone deserves that. We have lads who will be able to steady the ship when it comes to the final. We knew we were ready and were good enough to take on the best - and James Stephens were the best. We put a marker down to say that Portumna hurling and Galway hurling is on a rise.

"We knew that if we ran at them, we had the hurlers to match them in different positions. It was the same when Galway played Kilkenny last year. You run at them, you hook them, you block them, you chase the ball and you move it fast. And, it showed on Sunday. The fast ball, first-time hurling and pure grit were the difference."

Ollie Canning rejects the notion that they took Dunloy for granted at the time.

"They beat us fair and square on the day,’’ he says. "But we are definitely a better team now. We just need to keep our feet on the ground. A lot of work to be done yet before Patrick’s Day."

Canning, the eldest of four brothers in the team (with another among the substitutes), is one of several players who moved positions after the county final win over Loughrea. Moving from midfield, he took over the left corner-position previously occupied by Aidan O’Donnell; Eoin Lynch, one of their stars at midfield on Sunday, had been more accustomed to playing either at half-back or in the full-back line.

Canning and fellow Allstar Damien Hayes both opted out of the trip to Singapore last month to concentrate on the club championship.

Hayes said yesterday that it was a small sacrifice: "You just have to have respect for the other panel members of 37. It was an easy decision to make not to travel. When we got beaten by Dunloy I thought we’d be back the following year but Athenry beat us in the county final.

"Our aim now is to emulate the like of Sarsfields, Athenry, Castlegar and Kiltormer (who have all won the All-Ireland)."

Sean Treacy says Portumna had been "envious" of the other Galway clubs which had contested finals, but they never gave up hope.

"We felt that some day it might be our turn. We got caught two years ago but this time, the guys made a commitment to one another - that whatever about the result they would not let themselves down. And it was reflected in the way they played.

"Call a spade a spade. Newtownshandrum only won by a point, but you’d have been saying it was going to be them in the final and whoever was going to be coming out of our side. They’ll be raging hot favourites.

"They have players all over the field with inter-county experience and All-Ireland medals in their pocket. We don’t have that. But, what we do have is a savage hunger and hopefully we’ll match them. And match them well."