Celebrations on hold as St Vincent’s set sights on Munster

UNDERSTANDABLY St. Vincent’s have celebrated their Cork Premier IFC victory in style for the best part of the week. Last Sunday’s success was charged with emotion, coming at the end of three gruelling matches plus two periods of extra time.

Team coach Keith Ricken called a halt to the celebrations after three days and had his charges back on the training field as they geared themselves for tomorrow’s Munster Club quarter-final against Tipperary champions Mullinahone in Cloneen (near Fethard).

“This is virgin territory for us,” said Ricken. “A club like ours doesn’t get too many chances to win a Munster title, and having sampled the excitement of the Cork triumph last Sunday, everybody involved with the team as well as the players are keen to add provincial honours.

“Winning the Cork title has taken an enormous effort and there is always the fear that players would be satisfied with that, and not put in the same effort to win further honours. I can safely say that is not the case here.

“The players are a very mature bunch and know that careers are short in this game. They have returned to training eagerly looking forward to winning more titles, and while it has been a very long season for us, the fact that we are winning compensates.”

Unfortunately for the Cork champions they will be without captain and midfielder Declan O’Connell. He pulled up with a torn hamstring early in last Sunday’s second replay and is given no chance of playing.

“Declan will be a big loss”, said Ricken, “but it affords one of the fringe players the opportunity to show what he can do. Our panel is strong and whoever comes in, will do a good job for us.”

Despite the loss of O’Connell, Vincent’s chances of success have been strengthened by the loss of three key players for Mullinahone. Team captain Vincent Doheny, Paul Curran and Philip O’Shea have all gone on holidays which is a massive blow to the Tipperary champions.

Had there been no draws in the Cork final — there were two — this quarter-final would have been played two weeks ago and all three players would have been available.

“It’s very hard on the club to be going into such an important championship game without three of our best players”, said secretary Oliver Vaughan, “but we’ll just have to live with it.

“Had we been at full strength I would give ourselves more than a 50/50 chance of winning.

“Apart from the loss of the three players, the delay in playing the game hasn’t helped our preparation. Fortunately we have home advantage which will be a help, but St. Vincent’s have the benefit of three very hard games in a row behind them, and are going to be very difficult opponents.”

With the three matches under their belt, Vincent’s will be fancied to stay on course for that coveted Munster title but must guard against any complacency.

Another Tipperary hurling club with Munster football championship title aspirations are Portroe. They play Adrigole tomorrow in the provincial junior semi-final in Claughaun, and given their record to date, it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility they could halt the Cork champions run.

Like St. Vincent’s, this is all new to the Beara club, but according to club secretary Marie Goggin, “it’s something we are looking forward to.

“Hopefully we are in for the long haul, but we’ll take it one game at a time. We know nothing about Portroe and it would be foolish to under estimate them. Our lads are very committed to the cause.

“The majority of them are working in the city, but they travel back to Adrigole twice a week for training. That kind a commitment deserves reward and hopefully they can take us on to a Munster final next month.”

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