Ten days ago, he watched the Nenagh CBS team that he manages prevail against Thurles CBS in brutal weather in their Dr Harty Cup quarter-final replay in Dolla. Victory secured a place in tomorrow’s semi-final with Ardscoil Rís in Sean Treacy Park, Tipperary Town at 2.30pm. But that was the same day the Limerick senior hurlers, who he now trains since John Allen was appointed manager, were slated to face Clare in the Waterford Crystal Cup.
However that game in Sixmilebridge has since been switched to tonight, freeing up O’Donnell to attend both clashes. He’s enjoyed the double-jobbing in recent weeks, and does have to look too far in the Limerick dressing-room for someone well-acquainted with champions Ardscoil Rís, as Ahane attacker Niall Moran is a teacher in the South Circular Road school in Limerick city.
“There’s a bit of a connection alright,” laughs O’Donnell. “But to be honest we haven’t talked much about the game. If we did, Niall wouldn’t be telling me too much and vice versa. We’ve had challenge games against them over the last few years so I’d know Niall from that and now I just happen to be training him with Limerick. It’s been enjoyable and the roles don’t overlap. Nenagh training takes place during the day and Limerick training takes place at night. I thought I was going to miss Limerick’s first game but it worked out well for me with the change and I can make both games now.”
The match is a significant one for Nenagh CBS as they chase a first final appearance in the competition in 14 years. Defeating Thurles CBS has fuelled optimism levels for a team who will be minus full-back Niall Gleeson (cruciate) but can rely on talisman Jason Forde for inspiration.
“There’s been huge interest since we beat Thurles and I know a lot of people are talking about the semi-final. We hadn’t beaten Thurles in a long time and we lost to them in the semi-final two years ago so it was a major success for us. The replay was a real dogfight but Jason Forde’s goal was key. He’s in his third year playing Harty and was Tipp minor captain last year. He’s a huge talent.”
Ardscoil Rís are missing several of the stars of last year’s side yet have impressed this season and defeated Castletroy College in the quarter-final. Jamie Shanahan, a Clare minor last year, and Barry O’Connell, a Limerick minor last year, are lynchpins of the side along with PJ Hall, Kevin O’Brien and Jack Kelleher.
The other semi-final clash is an all-Waterford affair and takes place in Fraher Field this afternoon at 2.30pm. Coláiste na Déise, an amalgamation of two schools in Dungarvan, face De La Salle Waterford, who won back-to-back Dr Harty Cups and Croke Cups in 2007 and 2008.
Coláiste na Déise displayed their battling qualities at the quarter-final stage when bettering St Flannan’s (Ennis) by 1-13 to 1-12 despite having to play with 14 men after midfielder Kieran Power was dismissed before the throw-in. Cathal Curran is an outstanding freetaker while Michael Hurney is another attacker of note. De La Salle were far too strong for Midleton CBS in their quarter-final with Darragh O’Flynn giving an exhibition of marksmanship from placed balls as he registered 0-12. Barry O’Sullivan is also prominent up front while Paul Coughlan, Austin Gleeson and Sam O’Neill are resolute figures in defence.