All-Ireland Club JHC semi-final: The Dungourney dinner dance has been scheduled for Saturday, February 20 and with four pieces of silverware already booked in for the top table, junior manager Brian Ronayne is dearly hoping there’ll be a last minute edition to the victory banquet.
The Cork and Munster junior hurling champions, who also picked up East Cork league and championship crowns during the most memorable of campaigns last year, stand one hour from an All-Ireland final appearance at GAA HQ early next month.
Standing in their path is a most “unusual” junior outfit, unusual in the sense that it is rare you stumble across a junior team with three All-Ireland senior medal winners among their ranks.
Easily known then why the bookmakers have installed Kilkenny’s Glenmore as raging hot favourite’s for tomorrow’s contest; Ronayne, though, doesn’t see this one as a foregone conclusion. Indeed, he’s slightly offended at the manner in which his side have been disregarded.
“It is very unusual that you meet a junior team with three All-Ireland winners [Richie Mullally, Eoin Murphy and Ger Alyward], but I don’t agree with the bookies. This Glenmore team, after all, were relegated from intermediate in 2014.
“We’ve seen them twice as we managed to get down to their Leinster semi-final and Leinster final. We like to have our homework done. They’re a good side, no doubt about it, and while we haven’t misjudged them or anything, I just don’t think there is this gulf that people are suggesting.”
His own Dungourney side isn’t privy to such household names, but Ronayne is confident they’ll rise to the occasion nonetheless. Having been extremely worried in the run up to their Munster final contest with Fenor in early December – the manager felt his players “had gone off the boil” leading into the game – the attitude in training since their return from a short Christmas break has more than pleased him.
“There was a lull in training coming up to the Fenor game and it did worry me. Maybe it was due to the fact that we were huge favourites. The last three weeks, though, there has been an excellent focus.
“We’ve used the all-weather in Carrigtwohill a fair bit and then had challenges against the Cork minors in Mallow and the CIT intermediate’s inside in CIT.
“Driving the training, I imagine, is the realisation that this is a once-off. There are a few lads on this team who are 30-plus. They realise this is their last chance to get to Croke Park. It is important they give it everything. This is our final.”
As for that impending dinner dance: “Ah sure, the Munster final fell in early December and there was no weekend that really suited before this game so February 20 was decided on and wouldn’t it be great if we had an All-Ireland title to celebrate. That is a bit away yet, though. One hurdle at a time.”
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