Ballyea manager Robbie Hogan says having to depend on the goodwill of neighbouring clubs for training pitches over the past month has not hindered preparation for tomorrow’ All-Ireland semi-final.
With no floodlights at the field in Ballyea, the Clare and Munster hurling champions have been on the move since returning to training following the provincial final victory over Glen Rovers.
“We haven’t trained on our own pitch in quite a while because we just don’t have the lights and facilities the bigger fields would,” Hogan revealed.
“The goodwill around the county has been massive and we have been real journeymen in terms of training. We’ve been in Kildysart, Sixmilebridge, Miltown and Limerick IT. We’ve yet to fail to get a pitch. If all else failed, we went to the Astro-turf in either Kildysart or LIT. Kildysart is just back the road from us and they’ve great facilities.
"They have been more than helpful. Our fellow parishioners Clarecastle have been very good in helping us out. We are representing Clare and everyone is trying to help us out with anything they can. We have been very appreciative of all the help we’ve got. While it is difficult, you have to respect the wishes of the clubs whose facilities you are asking to use.
"If the field is closed, it’s closed. You respect their decision and be thankful for all the other times they let us in.” Opponents St Thomas’ are led by three-time All Star David Burke, but he won’t be receiving any special attention at Thurles according to Hogan.
“We pick our team based on our own strengths. We’ve done that throughout that year. We set up our team as it suits us. Until an issue arises during a game, we’ll play our best players in their best positions. David is a huge driving force behind their team and you don’t need to be a scientist to realise how good a player he is. He is exceptionally strong.”
Hogan says “it would be the stuff of dreams” were Ballyea to make it to Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day. Where we are now is massive. Every step we take is a bonus. To imagine that you’d be going out in Croke Park with a small club would be fantastic. It would be something unbelievable were we able to achieve it.
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