Eoghan Rua manager Pádraig Ó Mianáin’s preparations for Sunday’s All-Ireland Junior hurling semi-final against Sylane are all but completed, the countdown is now into the days rather than weeks and it really is looming large now, potentially just 60 minutes away from a trip to Croke Park.
Not the best time of year for playing hurling but any team that is preparing around this time must be looking at something a bit special and that is exactley what Eoghan Rua are doing. So when I caught up with Pádraig at another early morning session at a cold and wet Pairc Eoghain Rua he explainned how things were going for his charges.
“Given the time of year prepartations have been going fairly well,’ he said.
“We did have a few problems getting challenge games and then we had some games called off as pitches just weren’t playable. However all in all over the Christmas period we had a good run at it and also we had the University to train under lights so that was a great help. We’re as prepared as we can be for the time of year.”
Eoghan Rua did take in a long trip down south to Clare to get a feel for southern hurling.
“Well as I said we missed out on a couple of challenge games but we had a contact through our camogie team for the Sixmilebridge club down in Clare.
“We actually played on a 4G pitch in Limerick and it ended up in a very high scoring draw, 5-27 to 4-30, must have been some sort of record that one! It was a very positive weekend for the lads, they really enjoyed the coaching, a different voice and the challenge game. “
All the way through their Ulster winning campaign and indeed their All-Ireland quarter-final victory the Eoghan Rua side has been going in to uncharted waters, as Padraig explained.
“Really it’s another trip into the unknown for us, very similar to our quarter-final against Fullen Gaels over in Birmingham. We know very little about Sylane, its dificult enough to get information within Ulster but when you move outside the province it becomes even more difficult. The fact that we are playing at junior level means there’s much less media attention, there would be no TV coverage or even videos of their games to have a look at. We’re going in blind I suppose, we haven’t seen them but chances are they would have very little on us either.’
“It’ll be a bit of a chess match in the opening 10 or 15 minutes I would think, we’ll both be trying to get a handle on eachother as the game progresses, a bit like the Fullen Gaels game we seemed to settle into it by the second quarter so we would be hoping for more of the same this time around. You just have to play what’s in front of you.
‘To be fair the lads are in good form, they’re telling me that anyway, so we think we are as good as we can be and we are all really looking forward to the challenge .”