They didn’t need to win a first county senior title for Harry Gleeson to be told his Adare footballers were in bonus territory. He’s had those words ringing in his ears since the middle of last summer.
Adare were relegated from the senior ranks at the end of the 2015 season and despite still having plenty of survivors from the team defeated in the 2010 county final, few outside of the picturesque Limerick town gave them any chance of returning to the senior ranks.
“When we got out of our group in last year’s intermediate championship, I was told it was bonus territory from here on in,” says Adare manager Gleeson.
They made the most of “bonus territory”, regaining their senior status at the first attempt and beating Cork side Kiskeam en route to a Munster final against Kenmare.
2017 brought much of the same. Unheralded at the outset, champions come autumn.
Sunday brings a trip to Mallow to face off against the most successful club in Munster club football history with a provincial final berth at stake.
This time it is bonus territory.
“In this instance, it is true to say it,” Gleeson quips.
“Aside from the county quarter-final replay against Ballylanders, we were considered a non-entity for all other games. I don’t know why that was the case but it was. The players have proven people wrong.
“I live in the real world, but I do believe we have a chance on Sunday. Now, we recognise the powerhouse that Nemo are, but anything is possible in sport. We are hoping Nemo have a bad day and we have a good day.”
Their opponents are chasing an 18th Munster final appearance while the bar is somewhat lower for Adare. Gleeson’s outfit are bidding to become the first Limerick team to win a game in the Munster senior club since 2008. Dromcollogher-Broadford, Monaleen, Newcastle West, and Ballylanders have all represented Limerick over the past eight years, none have managed to come out on the right side of a result.
“What’s the worst that can happen; we gain experience which we take forward into 2018. As I always tell the lads, you never lose. You either win or learn.
“The lads are fierce determined to make the most of this opportunity because, as we would have discussed last year, you don’t know when you will find yourself back in Munster competition. The lads want to seize the moment. The appetite since winning our first senior county is no different to what it was before that game. These lads are as hungry as ever. I always say I was blessed to find myself in the right place at the right time when asked to take over this team for the 2016 season. They’re a superb bunch.
“I would expect that this group will win another county title, if not two more, in the next few years. We finished the county final with nine U21s on the pitch. They love to win, they have an expectation of winning.”
Neil Mulvihill, who lined out at right half-forward during the 2-10 to 1-10 win over Newcastle West, is traveling at present and so won’t feature here.
He was due to fly out to Columbia on the Saturday before the county final but changed his flights to the Monday in the hope that he’d depart Dublin airport with a first county medal in his luggage.
Davy Lyons, another member of their half-forward line, missed the Limerick decider through injury but is expected to feature here.
Larry Kavanagh’s Nemo could be without a string of first-team regulars. Injury has removed two members of his defence, Tomás Ó Sé and Cian McWhinney, the latter facing a lengthy spell on the sideline after incurring a spinal injury early on in the Cork final replay.
Further members of the Nemo rearguard, Kevin Fulignati and Alan Cronin, are also struggling with injuries since the second game against the Barrs, although Cronin did train this week which suggests he’ll start. Midfielder Jack Horgan is rated as 50-50.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved