It was a day that promised much but transpired to deliver little. Nenagh CBS entered last month’s Dr Harty Cup final chasing their first ever title but their dreams were scuppered by Coláiste na nDéise.
The defeat was shattering yet the North Tipperary outfit have revived their season in remarkable fashion and today chase an All-Ireland title in the Dr Croke Cup final against Kilkenny CBS.
“It’s been a real rollercoaster of a season,” says Nenagh CBS coach Donagh O’Donnell. “I think the occasion got to us in the Harty final. But we had a meeting the Tuesday after that match where we looked at everything and we impressed on the lads that they deserved a chance to show they weren’t as bad as that game had showed.”
After a bye in the All-Ireland quarter-final, Nenagh CBS faced a three-week break before playing reigning champions St Kieran’s in the semi-final. A challenge game against the Tipperary minor hurlers aided their preparations but their pre-match prospects were dealt a blow with the loss of ace defender Jack Peters, a Tipperary minor last year, with a knee injury. Yet an able replacement was found in the Kilruane McDonaghs player’s 15-year-old brother Darragh while Jason Forde maintained his scoring heroics by returning a 0-14 haul.
“It was a big ask without Jack who played Harty Cup for the last three years. But we felt it was worth the gamble to play Darragh and for a 15 year-old he did very well. Jack is back available now which is a big boost. Jason was excellent with the number of points he hit. He was targeted a little bit but he won frees himself and punished the opposition every time.”
Today is a massive hurling occasion for the town of Nenagh and the surrounding hinterland. It could have been more significant if nearby Nenagh VS, were involved in the All-Ireland Vocational final but after their semi-final was abandoned last week, the curtain-raiser today has been postponed.
“It would have been fantastic to have two Nenagh teams playing All-Ireland finals the same day as a lot of these lads are clubmates and they go to each others’ games,” states O’Donnell. “But it’s still a very special occasion. We’d a run out in Semple Stadium on Wednesday, as did Kilkenny CBS, just to get used to the pitch and the dressing-rooms. It was a lovely sunny day and it was hard to get them off the pitch, as they’re just raring to go.
“We’ve had massive support from everyone in the school with Niall Quigley and Tony Slattery doing huge work in our management team as well. We played Kilkenny CBS in a challenge game during the Christmas break and there wasn’t much between us. I’d expect that to be the same today.”
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