McDonnell a doubt as Glen Rovers bid to bounce back from county final pain

McDonnell a doubt as Glen Rovers bid to bounce back from county final pain
Glen Rovers’ David Dooling breaks past Imokilly’s Anthony Spillane during the Cork SHC final. Glen manager Richie Kelleher said during the week: ‘We are coming out of a dark place so it is only natural to be down and sad. We take our hurling very seriously; when we win, we celebrate and when we lose, we are down.’ Picture: Inpho/Ryan Byrne.

It is three weeks since Glen Rovers lost the Cork senior hurling championship final to Imokilly. The question now, is can they put that disappointment behind them as they head to Semple Stadium tomorrow to play recently crowned Tipperary champions Borris-Ileigh in the Munster club semi-final?

Understandably, they are still heavy-hearted out around Blackpool and the agony of defeat is relatively fresh. However, according to Glen Rovers manager Richie Kelleher, they are beginning to pick up the pieces.

“We were fairly down after the county final,” Kelleher said. “We are coming out of a dark place so it is only natural to be down and sad. We take our hurling very seriously; when we win, we celebrate and when we lose, we are down.

“We took the week off, we didn’t go back training until the Tuesday week after the final. Numbers were down between fellas away working in Dublin, injuries and we have nine U21s on our panel and they were playing championship at the weekend.

"We trained the Thursday night, and it was more or less the same, numbers down again. But we trained in the 4G pitch in Páirc Uí Chaoimh this Tuesday and we had 23 togged out. We had a good session. We had beaten Na Piarsaigh in the U21 championship on Saturday. We had a win under our belt. So we were moving to a better place. Every day, the mind is getting better and stronger.

“Tomorrow is an opportunity for us to get back on the horse. I sent out a text to the players the week after the county final and I said that to them, that it was time to get going again. You don’t want to be spending the whole winter thinking about what we did right or what we did wrong. Win or lose, you have to move on.”

Glen Rovers participated in the Munster Club in 2015 and 2016, but those years the Seán Óg Murphy cup was safe in their trophy cabinet.

They reached the final in 2016 only to come up short to Clare’s Ballyea. Neither Blackrock nor Midleton (2017 and 2018 county finalists to Imokilly) got past their first round in the provincial championship – albeit their conquerors (Na Piarsaigh and Ballygunner) both went on to lift the silverware.

Newtownshandrum remain the last Cork club to claim Munster glory in 2009.

Kelleher acknowledges the importance of this competition, but he can’t say if last month’s county final loss will have created any doubt in their minds.

“We won’t know that until Sunday. We want to win. The weather is good and the venue is good. It is all down to what the players want.”

Borris-Ileigh, inspired by All Ireland senior medallists Brendan Maher and Dan McCormack, bridged a 33-year gap in their victory over north Tipperary rivals Kiladangan last Sunday.

Kelleher didn’t get to see any of the action.

A few of the lads saw it alright. I haven’t seen them play. I have 30 fellas of my own to look after so there is no point in watching Borris-Ileigh. I will start to think about them Saturday or Sunday. But we have to get our own house in order first.

They may have to plan without club and county stalwart, Stephen McDonnell.

“Stephen is a big doubt. He went into the county final with a groin injury and he broke his finger after five minutes. It is a testament to the player he is that he played on. He hasn’t trained with us since.”

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