It might have been a shock in some quarters, but The Nire’s win over Carbery Rangers in the Munster Club SFC semi-final last Sunday was no surprise to close observers of the provincial football scene.
Waterford champions The Nire were in a Munster final as recently as 2014, after all, and have huge experience in their ranks. Wing-back Jamie Barron, who collected a hurling All-Star award this year, says he and his teammates were expecting to turn in a good performance at the very least last weekend in Clonakilty.
“To be honest, we knew ourselves if we played to 100% of our ability we’d be there or thereabouts, and thankfully we were able to get that commitment on the day.
“We only won the Waterford championship last Sunday week, and we enjoyed that day and the Monday, but we knew if we rested and got some light training done we had a good chance. We were very confident going into the game on Sunday, the bookies had us at 9/2 earlier in the week and we were delighted to see ourselves being written off.”
The Waterford men prepared properly, and extra- time was no obstacle to them.
“We trained well during the week and we had almost everyone available to us,” said Barron. “We knew we’d have a big following down in Clonakilty . . . we knew we’d put up a serious challenge and once it got to extra-time we had that bit more in our legs.
“The way it panned out extra-time was probably more of a mental battle more than anything. Both teams would be feeling leggy, and in that case it comes down to whoever wants it more.
“We went in after normal time and said, ‘they’re tired, we’re tired, whoever wants it more’, that was our attitude.
“We have good experience in the team when you look at it, a lot of our players on Sunday had played in a lot of Munster Club games - a lot of us were there in 2014 when we played in the final against Austin Stacks and some of them were there in the 2006 final as well.
“That had to be a help, particularly when Carbery Rangers only won their first senior title this year and it was only their second game in the Munster Club.
“We’ve won a fair share of games in Munster and we had that experience to call on, and the young lads, the likes of Conor Gleeson, have a lot of experience themselves at underage with Waterford and so on. I thought that experience showed.”
Now another Munster final, and again facing Kerry opposition. The Nire have a little history with Dr Crokes, too. “It’s a Munster final, the lads played Crokes back in 2006 so that’s another motivation. We know if we give it our all and leave it out on the field we’ve a chance - hopefully the tide’ll turn and we’ll get a win in a Munster final.”
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