O’Donnell thriving in dual role

The double-jobbing with hurling teams over the past couple of months has created a frantic schedule for Donagh O’Donnell.

But he is in no mood to complain. Tomorrow night O’Donnell will be in the Gaelic Grounds to see how his training sessions with the Limerick senior hurlers over the past couple of months have worked as they make their league bow against Clare.

Then on Sunday it’s off to Leahy Park in Cashel, where he is at the helm for Nenagh CBS in the Dr Harty Cup final against Coláiste na Déise (2.30pm).

“It’s fantastic to be involved, I’d far prefer to be out every night of the week training than watching TV,” he said.

“When you start coaching, you’d like to coach the best teams and players. I have that chance with Limerick. My father Eddie would have been involved with John Allen when he was with Cork doing stats for them and when John took over with Limerick, he approached me about becoming the trainer.

“It’s been difficult in ways for us to prepare for the start of the league between the Fitzgibbon Cup and Na Piarsaigh being involved in the All-Ireland club but they are great players to work with.

“Then with Nenagh, I’m from the town myself, and I’ve been involved now with the school for about six years along with Tony Slattery, who became principal last year. Niall Quigley, who’s from Burgess, got involved with us as well.”

With nine clubs — Silvermines, Éire Óg Nenagh, Kilruane McDonaghs, Templederry, Burgess, Kildangan, Toomevara, Ballina and Portroe — represented on the Nenagh CBS panel, Sunday’s final is a huge occasion for the North Tipperary hurling community.

It’s been a long wait since their last appearance in the decider in 1997 and despite the clash with the league tie between Tipperary and Kilkenny, a large crowd is still expected to travel to support Nenagh.

“There’s huge interest in the game,” admitted O’Donnell. “There’s been a bit of talk that it’s a pity it clashes with the Tipperary game but we can’t really focus on that.

“As a team and management we have to focus on our game as anything else is a side show. The support from the clubs around us has been brilliant in terms of getting pitches to train on and getting sponsorship. The staff in the school have really rowed in behind us as well.”

Nenagh CBS report no injury worries but O’Donnell does feel for full-back Niall Gleeson, who misses out due to the torn cruciate ligament he sustained in the drawn quarter-final against Thurles CBS: “It’s very tough on him. He’d probably have been the county minor full-back this year. I’d imagine they had him tipped from it as he was playing very well, is a good size and has good ability.”

The battling qualities of Nenagh CBS have been graphically illustrated in surmounting the challenges of Thurles CBS and Ardscoil Rís in the knockout stages, after replays on both occasions.

“They’re a very good bunch of fellas who show great heart and courage. We’ve been a little bit lucky this year in that we got a slightly easier group. We needed that as it was hard to get the lads together due to Nenagh, Burgess, Toomevara and Portroe all being involved in club games until late in the year.

“Since Christmas we’ve put in a lot of work and a few challenge games against St Brendan’s [Birr], Kilkenny CBS and Cork Vocational Schools helped us.

“Hopefully that work will now pay off.”

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