Glen Rovers in from the cold at hot end of championship

Glen Rovers in from the cold at hot end of championship
Richie Kelleher: In his sixth year as Glen Rovers manager.

Tomorrow at Páirc Uí Rinn (5pm), Glen Rovers face Newtownshandrum in the last eight of the Cork senior hurling championship — the city club’s first quarter-final appearance since 2016.

That Glen Rovers have not featured at this stage for three years is an odd statistic given the club contested three consecutive county finals from 2014-16. But such a run was always likely to catch up on an ageing side and one-point defeats to Midleton and Na Piarsaigh in recent years meant the Glen had made their exit before the championship entered its concluding stages.

Instead of stepping back this season, content with his service given, manager Richie Kelleher signed up for his sixth year.

“At the start of the year, I told the players we haven’t got to the quarter-final since 2016. It is all about progress. If a team isn’t making progress, we need to question every person and everything. Our goal was to get here,” said Kelleher.

“There was revenge mentality the first day against Midleton (a 1-17 to 0-16 victory) given they they had knocked us out last year and then against Charleville, it was a tough, tough battle to get back to the quarters. We have to be making progress. We are in the minor county final this year; our U16s were beaten in the county semi-final; the U14s got to the Féile All-Ireland final (Div 3) this year. There is plenty of young lads coming up looking at the senior team. When they see our senior players doing it, it inspires them. We have a responsibility to keep the club going, to go out and give it our all because the day we throw our hat at it is the day the teams coming behind us throw their hat at it. That is a big responsibility. We have mature players who can handle all of that.

“It is about being the best you can on the day.”

Glen Rovers weren’t at their best when overcoming Charleville 1-22 to 1-21, after extra-time, in the third round. It was a game where the 2015 and ‘16 county champions were five points in arrears at half-time and did not take the lead for the first time until extra-time.

Kelleher said: “I wouldn’t say we got a scare against Charleville because I knew exactly what was coming. If you look at past Cork intermediate champions who have got to the All-Ireland final, they have always been difficult to beat. Charleville were on a savage roll and were full of confidence. We were going into their backyard so I knew it was going to be a dangerous, dangerous game.

“It was heart, fight, and determination that got us over the line. And we have to be proud of that. We dug it out and that tells me we still have that fight and determination to keep going,

“We will need all that experience on Saturday because Newtown will be young, will be lively, and well drilled. We need to be on our toes. The players must go out, give everything, and be tuned in from the very start.

Meanwhile, in the Cork PIFC, Na Piarsaigh and St Michael’s meet at Pairc Uí Rinn (7.30pm) for a place in the semi-finals. Both sides are facing into their first championship outing since April. St Michael’s, runners-up in 2017 and 2018, are bidding to reach a fourth county final in five years.

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