A manager’s work is never done.
Pádraig Kearns had a tense weekend waiting on news from the Duhallow players engaged in club activity, but by Monday he could exhale.
“Everyone seems to have come through the games. We’ve a few scratches and bumps and bruises, but we should have them all available.
“We had five clubs — Newmarket, Kanturk, Knocknagree, Millstreet and Dromtarriffe — in action at the weekend and only Knocknagree survived.
“It’s not ideal going into a county final, but it shouldn’t have any impact, I’d imagine. Obviously, it’s not easy, when you lose, but there is an immediate chance to get back on the horse again. It’s a senior county final and if you can’t get yourself up for that then there’s something wrong.”
Especially given the opposition.
The black and green Nemo Rangers jersey is a uniform that has dominated Cork and beyond for decades “They’ve won 20 counties, lost another four and have seven All-Irelands. And even if we did go on and beat them, they’d still have a chance of winning the All-Ireland (as Nemo will represent Cork in the provincial club championship).
“I reckon they’re improving with every game. They beat the ‘Barr’s and we all saw what they did to a good Douglas team, on paper at any rate.
Nemo always time their run in the championship and this season is no different. They’re a very serious outfit. All you have to look at is Billy Morgan, who’s a selector this year. They have a wealth of experience.
Duhallow don’t lack experience either, though. They made it to last year’s decider, losing to St Finbarr’s, and three years ago they lost out to Nemo.
“The biggest lesson is finals are all about winning,” says Kearns.
“Last year we played Castlehaven in three games in the semi-final, Sunday after Sunday, and then went straight into the final.
“This year we’ve two weeks to prepare, and hopefully we are better prepared this time around.
“It was also our first county final in a long time. This time it’s all about winning the county final. (Three years ago) half the team played the day before with their club while Kanturk pulled their players as well because they were involved in two championships, football and hurling. You couldn’t blame them for that. This year, however, there are no excuses because we’re fully equipped and if we’re good enough we’ll win. If we’re not, we won’t, but we will have a cut.”
As with any divisional side personnel can change, but Kearns points to the quality they’ll deploy Sunday: “This is my third season and we’ve had a lot of players going through our hands which makes the team stronger.
“Last year we had Gerry O’Connor and Michael Vaughan from Millstreet, but don’t have them this year.
“We’ve more work-horses than ball players this time, piano shifters. We’ve Con O’Callaghan, Daniel O’Connell and Shane Hickey who were with the Cork U20s and loads of players with the Cork juniors.
“We have good players though Nemo are a serious outfit and we will have to be on top of our game. We’ve a lot of good subs. For example, Lorcán McLoughlin is itching to get on and there’s more like him.”
That experience will surely help in the cauldron of a county final. “The most important thing is to concentrate on what we do and not to be looking in awe at Nemo. We must go at them and have no regrets afterwards.
“A fellow from west Cork told me once that clubs from there go up to play Nemo, others just look at them. And he has a point because I remember growing up watching Nemo in either county finals or other games and seeing players you’d have idolised.
“I believe our players will have a cut. They all love their football and have put in the extra effort. It’s also a great opportunity to showcase your talents.”
And the tradition. Kearns can remember the great Duhallow days of the early nineties, for instance
“It goes back to (then-manager) John Fintan Daly’s time, it would be bumper to bumper going into Macroom to watch Duhallow.
“It was like a religion at the time. It’s probably not as intense these days but there is still a hard core of support, especially from back west, Knocknagree.
“What you find is the current players are carrying on the tradition of their fathers, brothers and uncles.” So winning would be a dream come true?
“It would mean everything to me,” says Kearns.