On paper, Kilmallock have just as many first team inter-county players as Ballyhale Shamrocks. But Graeme Mulcahy insists there is no comparison between the two clubs’ experience of Croke Park.
Mulcahy, Gavin O’Mahony and Paudie O’Brien along with Barry Hennessy will all join up with TJ Ryan shortly just as the Fennelly brothers and TJ Reid will soon link up with Brian Cody.
There’s Joey Holden and possibly Henry Shefflin too but don’t tell Mulcahy there are on even terms when it comes to play at GAA HQ.
“Sure, some of them nearly have a corner of a dressing room!” says Mulcahy. “The likes of Colin Fennelly, TJ Reid, Henry Shefflin have been there umpteen times.
“Our inter-county players – Gavin, Paudie and myself – we’ve only been there a handful of times. It is an advantage for them. We just have to try and make it work for us in some other way.”
Like the other three finalists, Kilmallock were allowed to have a look around Croke Park last week. Some didn’t take up the opportunity and Mulcahy wonders just how beneficial it was. “We only got a look from the sideline. It wasn’t ideal. It was good for a few guys who hadn’t been there before to get used to the surroundings.”
Mulcahy was taken aback when he looked back on the history of the competition and realised a Limerick club has yet to lift the Moore Cup.
“Before this year, I hadn’t taken much notice of the fact that a Limerick team hadn’t won it. I just presumed they had back in the 1990s when there were so many strong teams competing – Kilmallock, Ballybrown, Claughaun, Patrickswell – they all have very strong teams throughout that decade, and the 80s. For one of those teams not to have won the All-Ireland, I was surprised.”
It’s a first return to Croke Park for Mulcahy, O’Brien and O’Mahony since the All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Kilkenny in monsoon conditions.
There’ll be a renewal of acquaintances around the field and Limerick’s display that day gives him solace — if not the result.
“It’s always nice to know you’ve performed but getting pats on the back after losing is always hard to take after losing.”
The Kilmallock players’ unfamiliarity with Croke Park may be a hindrance but Mulcahy has no such concerns about how his team-mates will handle the big occasion. “In the county there has been a massive rivalry between ourselves and Na Piarsaigh in recent years. To get that monkey off our back with Munster was a huge success for this team because we’ve been knocking on the door for a couple of years.
“This team has massive experience of big games. I don’t think lads are going to get too carried away. We’ll have our feet firmly on the ground.”
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