Na Piarsaigh manager Sean Stack is contemplating a seat in the stand when his charges come face to face with his beloved Sixmilebridge in Sunday’s AIB Munster Club SHC quarter-final.
Stack could forsake the touchline out of respect for his native club and the former Clare star admitted he “would rather be in Spain” after the provincial final pitted the club he manages against the one dearest to his heart.
After Na Piarsaigh beat Passage in the Munster semi-final at the Gaelic Grounds, Stack voiced his hope that the Limerick champions would not meet Sixmilebridge in the final.
Stack has prior experience of divided loyalties as back in 1993, he played on the Sixmilebridge team beaten by the team he was coaching, Tipperary’s Toomevara.
“You wouldn’t realise until you’re directly involved but I can tell you it was the worst day ever,” Stack recalled.
“It was very hard to deal with it. I was close to the Toome boys at the time. I spent two years there and won two championships. It tugged at the heartstrings. This is a bit different as I was playing with the Bridge at the time. But it’s not going to be an enjoyable day. I’d prefer to be in Spain.”
Because of his natural affection for his home club, Stack is preparing to “take a back step totally” following training on Friday evening and weekend plans will be left in the capable hands of selectors Dave Boylan and PJ Breen, and trainer Paul Beary.
“I’m just taking a back step totally on Sunday. Na Piarsaigh understand that. We’ve been together 92 times this year and this is my fourth year with them. And we’re going for a second Munster club. I’ll go the match and enjoy it as best I can.”
When asked if he would patrol the touchline at Cusack Park in Ennis, Stack responded: “Very doubtful. It’s going to be a difficult one. I’m not even thinking about that. I’m thinking about getting the lads ready. It’s a game but more than a game at this stage.”
The former All Star defender is pleased the Bridge have re-emerged as top dogs in Clare.
“I’d know them all really well — a great bunch of lads, the nicest fellas you could imagine,” he said.
“They’re a different breed — so committed and disciplined. Straight away after winning in Cork, they were into a recovery session.
“They put everything on hold. They celebrated the county final and were entitled to.
They had beaten the champions and their nearest neighbours and that was worth celebrating because we have enough sad and gloomy days in our lives. They’re a great bunch of lads and whatever happens, I’m going to lose.”
Stack insisted that having to travel to Cusack Park to face Sixmilebridge is not a concern. Na Piarsaigh had agitated for Semple Stadium as the venue for the provincial showpiece but a coin toss went in favour of Sixmilebridge.
“Whatever way the toss went, we were going with it, simple as that. The Park is a great venue and you’ll have a better atmosphere with the crowd in on top of the pitch. The confines might be tight but it’s the same size as Croke Park. We’ll get on with it and prepare.”
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