‘There’s nothing to say we can’t do it, because we have done it’

Cathal King will lead Na Piarsaigh out against Cuala in Saturday's All-Ireland club SHC final.

Cathal King pauses when the question is asked.

Can the captain mind the newcomers on the Na Piarsaigh side ahead of Saturday’s All-Ireland club final against Cuala or do they sink or swim themselves?

“It’s probably a bit of both. I don’t think you can hinder them in any way from soaking it all up and getting used to it. You can prepare them a small bit, you can tell them how it’ll be or talk about how the grass will be, that you won’t realise until you get out there that it’s pretty much a carpet.

“You can prepare them for small things like that, but there’s nothing, really, I can say to them to prepare them for what it’s like running out of the dressing room out onto the field. That’s something you have to experience for yourself, really.”

They overcame Slaughtneil and two sendings off in the semi-final, but King isn’t keen on those circumstances being repeated.

“The semi-final performance was like a couple of games we’ve been in before, where we’re never dead and buried, we made sure there was another bit of a kick left in us and, while we could, we made sure we’d give it everything we had.

“It’s comforting to know you have that kick in the team, but at the same time you don’t want to have to do that kind of work every time you go out and play, but I don’t have any doubts about the lads or their capabilities... If I had, that game would have dispelled them.”

Those dismissals mean Conor Boylan and Thomas Grimes are suspended for Saturday, but that gives others an opportunity: “They’ve (Boylan and Grimes) put in as much as anyone (in training); that’s the idea of having a panel. Even lads who haven’t made a championship appearance this year, they contribute as much to training as anybody, and that contribution is as important to our wins as anybody’s.

“Same with the two boys, they’re doing their level best, which is fantastic. There’d be a bit of an extra bite in the last couple of weeks given that possibility, or probability, of changes in the team for Croke Park.

“Certainly a lot of hands are being put up for inclusion, we’ve a large squad of fantastic players, which is a massive benefit to us. The fact that all of them are putting pressure on each other is obviously a big help to us.”

They’ll need all the help they can get. Their opponents are a serious outfit.

“Cuala are reigning champions, fantastic hurlers. They’ve earned our respect and the respect of a lot of people for what they’ve achieved. All we can do is to do our best to take them down.

“We can’t talk too much about them before facing them. You don’t know until you’re out on the pitch, how you size up against them. You can watch all the clips you want, but until you stand in beside your man, you don’t know how good he is.”

King’s proud of the armband.

“I’m as lucky as you’ll get to be still hanging on. It’s an incredible honour, absolutely amazing, I couldn’t be happier to lead out a better bunch of men.”

He is keen to make up for last year’s exit from the Limerick championship.

“No-one wants to be sitting at home watching other teams go on in the championship. We were out quite early, too, so we got to go into the Gaelic Grounds to watch the championship, and that hits a nerve with you. We could have done better, so it drives you on, as it would every other team.

“We wouldn’t usually talk about how other teams come at us. All you can do is concentrate on yourself. If you think too much about the opposition you can give them too much respect. You have to play to your own strengths as much as you can.

“A lot of that comes from having been to Croke Park, I suppose. There’s nothing to say we can’t do it, because we have done it. We’d have that in the back of our minds, that we have all the capabilities to go out and win it again.”


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