By Michael Moynihan
The prize is a day out which every club aspires to, but The Nire manager Dick Guiry is adamant they aren’t dwelling on any dates apart from tomorrow. Guiry’s side takes on St Joseph’s, Milltown Malbay of Clare tomorrow in Fraher Field (1.30pm) tomorrow and the winners have a Munster club final to look forward to.
That’s Monday’s work, says Guiry: “Look, we haven’t mentioned the Munster club final in training, nor are we going to, obviously enough. Hopefully, we’ll have to talk about it next week - for the right reasons. Obviously, we went well the last day (against Adare), put up a good score.”
Guiry’s men hit 1-18 to Adare’s 0-12, but the manager says that wasn’t the most significant game of the season.
“In all honesty, it was the county final in Waterford, I think, which was the important one for us.
“That was, by no means, a great game of football, but the important thing was to win it, particularly after last year’s final, which we lost. We’ve had a few games we should have won but didn’t, so the fear of losing might have been holding the lads back in Waterford and they were able to express themselves against Adare the last day. That said, I think Adare were freer than we expected and it didn’t go their way, though if they’d scored goals from a couple of chances they had it could have been a different story.”
They’ll need to be on their guard tomorrow. The Clare side have quality on the field - and off it, where highly-regarded coach Donie Buckley is helping out. Guiry’s side will be more familiar with the venue, obviously, but he doesn’t see that as a decisive factor.
“God, no. I’d be calling this a 50/50 game - Milltown will be coming to Dungarvan to win, and we’re going to Dungarvan to win. It’s a longer drive for them but that’s not going to affect them, they’re county champions.
“Will it be the same as the last day (against Adare)? I’d say that’s very unlikely, but that’s sport. They (Milltown) have a few big names but the one thing we do know about them is that work-ethic is a huge strength of theirs. They bring back numbers and defend in depth but they’re not what you’d call a wicked defensive team either.
The Nire don’t lack experienced men in their own ranks, players who’ve been involved at the highest level for years with their county - in hurling and football. “Experience shouldn’t be an issue, certainly,” says Guiry.
“We have the likes of Shane Walsh, who’s 35 years of age now but is still a fair detail of a footballer, he’s a very intelligent player. The likes of Conor Gleeson and Jamie Barron have played in Munster finals and All-Irelands in Croke Park, so they won’t be put off by anything this weekend. James McGrath, Darren Guiry, they’re going very well this year. You’d hope that losing games in the past would drive lads on so that they wouldn’t be in that position again: they know themselves what they’re capable of on a given day, that they can move the ball and play well. It’s just a matter of executing properly and playing to their potential.”
The Waterford side are almost at full strength, he adds: “We’re okay, Michael O’Gorman is still going to be out, but we knew that anyway and were planning around it. He wasn’t available the last day either and he’s getting better, he’s close to full fitness but he just not close enough at the moment. Other than him we’re not too bad.”