Looking back at the drawn final on the TG4 player and the pictures directly after referee Conor Lane brought proceedings to a halt suggest the Barr’s, more so than their opponents, were nothing short of spent. There’s many a man clad in blue with his hands on his quads, slightly bent over and gasping for air. The Nemo players cut a frustrated outfit, the Barr’s an exhausted one.
Tuesday evening’s casualty list bore testament to this.
Colin Lyons, Sam Ryan, Eoin Comyns, Denis O’Brien, Cillian Myers Murray and Rob O’Mahony remained in their tracksuits while a light session played out. Given O’Mahony had to be helped to his feet before being linked off with a quarter of an hour remaining, he has to be their main doubt.
“They’ll do everything they can to make it,” said Keane.
“The law of averages dictates that at least one of them won’t. We’ll keep the fingers crossed. There was a lot of work went into that game, even in the first-half when we were chasing it. There was a big emotional and physical investment.”
Rather stating the obvious here but Keane knows his charges can’t again hand Nemo such a headstart.
“I’m still note quite sure why we didn’t go at it from the start. Credit to Nemo, they flew out of the blocks and we simply could not live with them early on. They have years and years of experience and a lot of medals behind them. Maybe, we played the occasion. You’re trying to entrust players to find their way through games.
Bar switching Jamie Burns onto Luke Connolly, the St Finbarr’s management didn’t do a whole pile else to stem the Nemo tide during the opening half. A sign of their trust in the players, perhaps?
“You make these decisions based on what you believe in and what you see in front of you. There are things that worked and things that didn’t. We came out of it alive and that’s the main thing. If we hadn’t, people would have been saying to me, why didn’t I do x, y, and z. That’s all part of it.”
He added: “That these lads dug in didn’t surprise me. If I asked them to train seven days a week, they would. They are a very honest and committed bunch. They always give absolutely everything."
Given 11 members of Keane’s starting team played in their first county last weekend - and came through intact - has to be the main plus ahead of the replay. They’ve gone through the whole rigamarole of county final afternoon - getting the bus in from the clubhouse, landing onto the large runway underneath the South Stand, marching behind the band and familiarising themselves with Páirc Uí Chaoimh’s new sod.
“We do have a very young side. That is something you would feel would stand to them. The longer you are there, the more of a chance you have. It is heading into the 22nd of October. If you had given us this at the start of the year, I’d have been happy out. We were happy enough on Tuesday evening and I suppose that contrasted sharply with how we were feeling half an hour into the match last weekend.”
When quizzed on their reliance on Stephen Sherlock for scores, Keane concluded: “I couldn’t care less who scores for us on Sunday. I don’t go out thinking someone has to score x amount for us to win. You need different people coming up to the plate each day.
“What swung the game back in our direction shortly after half-time is that we went at it. We must do that again on Sunday.”