"There’s not a puck of a ball between teams" - Patrickswell Thomas O'Brien braced for Glen Rovers clash
The Limerick senior hurling champions take on the Cork side in the Munster SHC semi-final09:18 Saturday 5 November 2016, 9:18 5 Nov 2016
Patrickswell's victory in the final of the Limerick SHC was no fluke. It was instead, according to Thomas O'Brien, the culmination of more than three years' work and the development of some of the county's best young talent.
Having been caught out in the first round by Adare, last year's beaten finalists were determined not to be overturned again.
"They had their homework done and that was back in May," O'Brien tells Newstalk.com. "That kind of gave us a wake-up call. Coming into that, we had been a bit complacent thinking that we could get back to a semi-final or a final no bother.
"We knew after that match we were looking at a quarter-final if we qualify. We were well prepared.
"The team trained hard for a few months in August and September. We saw the path in front of us, and knew there’d be pretty tough games in Kilmallock and Ballybrown. There’s not a puck of a ball between them teams. There’s not a puck of a ball between us in any given year, so we were ready to go from there."
The training had clearly paid off as they picked up a resounding 19-point victory over Ballybrown, and sent out a message to the rest of the country that these guys were real contenders.
"I don’t think we felt that much pressure, we were just determined to win and lucky enough on the day we pulled away by a good bit in the end.
"We knew it could have been a tough game. They’ve beaten us a few times, so we left no stone unturned. The last week or two have been absolutely brilliant."
Patrickswell's Cian Lynch has become one of the brightest young hurlers in the county. Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer
The formula for such a victory has its fair share of disappointment, determination and just the right amount of talent, which O'Brien believes he's seen cultivated at underage level within the club and as a result, the county.
"Last year we were up three or four points, and we tried to hold our lead. We kind of sat back a little bit to do that. This year’s experience compared to last year was massive. We went from not even getting to semi-finals or quarter-finals for a few years to going straight into finals.
"We beat a lot of teams along the way by a good bit last year. We tried to hold on in the final and got beat. Just the experience of that for the whole team, the younger players and the older players, was huge. The gang has come on a lot over the last two years and into this year. It just goes to show how massive a year’s experience can be."
This weekend they face Cork side Glen Rovers, a team they are more than familiar with.
"I watched them in the Cork final, and they’ve won two in-a-row, they’re a serious outfit. We played them in a challenge during the year. There was only a few points between the teams.
"Patrick Horgan scored three or four points at the end of the game. They’ll have been training the last three or four weeks so I’ve no doubt they’ll be well prepared for this. It’s going to be a serious game.
"There’s nothing between any of these teams. You saw that last week between Ballygunner and Thurles. Glen Rovers are a very, very good team so we know it’ll be a tricky game."
The sides meet at the Gaelic Grounds this Sunday 3.30pm.
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