Provincial pride has busy Cussen torn between two loves

THE first weekend of November doesn’t mean an easing of the demands placed on Cork’s Michael Cussen.

Tonight he is selected at full forward on the Munster team to face Connacht in the M Donnelly Interprovincial Football final while tomorrow he lines out for Cork champions Sarsfields in the first round of the Munster senior hurling club championship against Clare outfit Clonlara.

A trainee garda stationed in Dungarvan, Cussen is being pulled in several directions by various GAA masters. But he sees many positives in his situation.

Said Cussen: “The upside of all this activity is that it should make the training easier when we get back with the Cork footballers in the New Year.

“I’m not sure I’ll be playing with Munster tonight. All that depends on what the club has to say about it. This time of the year is all about the club and they must be given first preference, particularly in this situation.

“Winning the Cork title after such a long gap was brilliant, and we want to keep that going. We are conscious of our responsibility to the county and we’ll give it our best shot. The celebrations after the county final were brilliant but our team management is experienced and had us back training a week later.

“This is Sars’ first venture into the Munster Club championship, and we want to give a very good account of ourselves. It’s the perfect platform to test yourself against the best from the other counties.”

Cussen revealed that the Cork champions have played a number of challenge games in preparation for tomorrow’s meeting with the Clare outfit.

“We played the likes of Birr (Offaly) and Rathdowney (Laois). It’s important to get games like that as ground conditions are going to deteriorate from here on. Fortunately tomorrow’s game is in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. There hasn’t been too many games played there since the county final so it should be in good condition.”

The newly crowned Clare champions stunned Newmarket-on- Fergus in last week’s final. Cussen is unsure what to expect. “I know very little about Clonlara, but all county champions have to be taken seriously, and Sars certainly won’t be taking anything for granted tomorrow.”

Over in the Banner County the celebrations at winning the county title for the first time in 89 years, have had to be put on hold, said Clonlara manager Jim Gully.

“The scenes at the final whistle last Sunday had to be seen to believed. Twelve months ago we won the intermediate title but lost out to Tommy Larkins (Galway) in the All-Ireland final. Few of us could have envisaged then that a year on we’d the senior champions of Clare.

“We rode our luck along the way and even last Sunday it was touch and go but we held on and the celebrations have gone on all week — among our supporters only I hasten to add.”

Gully admitted that he knows little of Sars explaining: “Our primary objective was to win our county final, but I understand they are a bit like ourselves, with quite a number of U21 players on their team. We have seven of our team which won the Clare U21 title earlier this year. All this is virgin territory for both teams tomorrow, so it should be a lively contest.

“Having been in the Munster Club championship last year at intermediate level, it’s great to be back again in the higher grade. It is most exciting as one game rolled into the next and we would like that to happen again. Ideally we would have loved a second week to prepare for it, but this is the hand we have been dealt.

“Whenever we go to Páirc Uí Chaoimh it’s to support the county team but to be going there tomorrow with your club is something very special. It promises to be a great occasion and we can’t wait to get there.”

Sarsfields have had a couple of weeks to get over their county success which gives them an edge over Clonlara who have had only seven days to come down from the dizzy heights of winning the Clare title for the first time in 89 years.

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