O'Sullivan hails Ballygunner's journey from 'nearly men' to back-to-back Munster champions 

An All-Ireland semi-final awaits the Waterford men in two weeks but they fully intend on celebrating this latest success.
O'Sullivan hails Ballygunner's journey from 'nearly men' to back-to-back Munster champions 

YEARS IN THE MAKING: Ballygunner manager Darragh O'Sullivan and Peter Hogan celebrate at the final whistle. Pic: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Ballygunner manager Darragh O’Sullivan has hailed the club’s journey from so-called “nearly men” to back-to-back Munster champions.

Provincial runners-up three times from 2015 to ‘19, defending their Munster crown further emphasises their status as one of the great hurling club sides.

An All-Ireland semi-final awaits the Waterford men in two weeks but they fully intend on celebrating this latest success, said their manager.

“I said it in the Ballyea dressing room there that we have had a lot of bad days in Munster finals and that has probably made us what we are,” O’Sullivan remarked. 

“It has hardened us and hardened us and hardened us and we have learned from every single one of those defeats and we got stronger because of it. And I know they’ll do that as well.

“You’ll never have believed it going back a few years ago. We were nearly men, people were questioning our character. We’ve proven now that we’re up there with the very best of them.” 

Scoring yet another goal, Patrick Fitzgerald gave a delightful performance in Thurles this evening, contributing 1-4 in total and almost grabbing another two goals. O’Sullivan marvels at his progress this season.

“From where he has come from as 17, 18-year-old kid coming in and he’s no frame around him... look at him now and he’s a frame around him. That’s how hard he is working but he understands that if he wants to be part of this group that he has to work that hard and that’s what he’s doing. I’m delighted for him.” 

 O’Sullivan is happy that the All-Ireland semi-final takes place before Christmas and supports the idea of the competition finishing in the calendar year.

As local sources indicated FBD Semple Stadium would be closed for the remainder of the year for pitch repairs, the venue for the game against the Leinster winners, Ballyhale Shamrocks or Kilmacud Crokes, comes into focus.

O’Sullivan hopes Thurles can be made available for the game on December 17 or 18. 

“We need to play these matches on the best surfaces they can get and the best grounds that they can get. There is no point bringing this to a surface that is not right.

“Like, these guys have trained for the full year for the best surfaces and I think that has to be a huge part of this to let these guys go out and have a cut at each other at the best facilities available. That’s where it is.

“Thurles would probably be the obvious place. If they’re saying it’s out, it’s out. It’s only in two weeks’ time. Surely, they can defer that a little bit. That would make sense, wouldn’t it? Surely to God, we can swing that or the GAA will surely to God look at that and say, ‘You have Leinster and Munster coming together and Thurles is the perfect venue, the perfect sod’. Sure, that makes absolute sense.” 

Meanwhile, Ballyea manager Robbie Hogan hailed Ballygunner’s performance while giving credit to his own players.

“We clawed it back early in the second half but they’re a quality team and give them a sniff of it and they’ll go for the jugular. They’ve huge strength and massive impact off the bench and they’re practically an inter-county team and fair play to them, you have to tip your hat to them, they’re a fine side.

“We’ll get time now to absorb the back-to-back and getting to a Munster final but we didn’t come here to be competitive, we came here to win. A few things didn’t go our way, we didn’t get the scores that we needed and every time we got a score they were able to respond and kept in front of us all the time.”

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