Final glory beckons for Eoghan Rua at Croke Park

Joe Bradley of Bradley Fuels presented Eoghan Rua with a new set of jerseys ahead of their All-Ireland Junnior Hurling championship final in Croke Park on Sunday 7th February. Pictured from left to right -  Anton Rafferty (captain), Joe Bradley, Padraig " Mian�in (manager) and Ciaran Gaile.
Joe Bradley of Bradley Fuels presented Eoghan Rua with a new set of jerseys ahead of their All-Ireland Junnior Hurling championship final in Croke Park on Sunday 7th February. Pictured from left to right - Anton Rafferty (captain), Joe Bradley, Padraig " Mian�in (manager) and Ciaran Gaile.

Days like this don’t’come around too often, but incredibly the Eoghan Rua club look forward to a fourth big day out in Croke Park for an All-Ireland final in the space of just nine years.

And what makes it even more remarkable is that this will be the third different code in which they will be appearing in an All-Ireland final.

Following in the footsteps of their footballers (2007) and camogs (2011 and 2012) the Eoghan Rua hurlers will go for glory against the might of Kilkenny and Leinster champions, Glenmore this Sunday afternoon in Croke Park (throw-in 2.00pm).

Eoghan Rua’s path to the final seen them storm through Ulster fairly well unscathed with three resounding victories.

They began with a quarter-final win over Tyrone side Naomh Columcille, 1-17 to 0-8, a depleted Mac Cumhails side from Donegal were beaten 0-16 to 0-8 before they had a facile 3-15 to 0-7 win over Down champions Ballela in the Ulster final at Owenbeg.

That win set up a journey ‘across the water’ to Birmingham’s Pairc Na hEireann for an All-Ireland quarter-final. There they met the All-Britain champions, Manchester side Fullen Gaels who were beaten 1-11 to 0-6 in a teak tough encounter.

Back on home soil Eoghan Rua then had to overcome Galway and Connacht champions Sylane in Ballyshannon and that they did in impressive fashion, 0-10 to 0-4, following a second half shut out after the sides went in 0-4 each at the break.

Now they are just one more step away from All-Ireland glory but the challenge that awaits them in Glenmore will be formidable. Hurling is king in Kilkenny and any club that comes out of their cut throat county championship system has to be reckoned with. The statistics bear that out.

A Kilkenny team has won six out of the twelve All-Ireland titles contested since the inauguration of the competition in 2003.

Such is the dominance of Kilkenny hurling in Leinster that since the beginning of the Junior championship in the province a Kilkenny club has been in every provincial final, winning 12 of the 15 contested.

A daunting task ahead then for the Eoghan Rua hurlers but one they will meet head on. They have had the longest period of exclusive hurling preparation for any competition in many years so they will be going into Sunday’s final in the best shape they can be.

There has been a discernible improvement game by game and it is likely Eoghan Rua will need to step up their performance yet another notch or two if they are to upset the odds and beat Glenmore. It can be done.