Fergal Ryan: I don't mind if it's a shocker of a county final once we win...

Fergal Ryan: I don't mind if it's a shocker of a county final once we win...

Blackrock team manager Fergal Ryan at the club ahead of the county final. Picture: Larry Cummins

BLACKROCK manager Fergal Ryan was a teak-tough defender in the group that won three titles in four years from 1999 to 2002. 

In charge since 2016, he also guided his beloved Rockies to a final three seasons ago. Tomorrow they're back in the decider, at 4pm in Páirc Uí Chaoimh against the Glen, who were runners-up in 12 months ago themselves but champions in 2015-'16.

For the former Cork corner-back, there won't make any dramatic change from what they've done all season, now well used to the Covid restrictions in terms of supporters and the tight gap between games.

"If you look back at 2017, there's not a whole lot we could have done differently. We played well against a serious Imokilly squad and came up just short. What you'd hope is guys are three years older and have naturally matured since."

They won an absolute epic semi-final last Saturday, with the likes of Tadhg Deasy and Robbie Cotter excelling off the bench against UCC, Ryan and his selectors have no shortage of options for the starting 15.

"There will be some tough calls, and it's not nice to be disappointing players, but it's great to be in that position in one sense and subs will have a major part to play on Sunday. It just means you've a strong panel.

"We've come through a tough group, topped it but then had to come through games with Douglas and UCC, who I'd both deem great teams. What's been asked of us, and there have been questions asked of us throughout, we've answered those.

"UCC was our toughest test in that we were under pressure for a lot of the game but we were able to get the right scores at the right times. 

"You need a base of players to have 30 at training for full games. We moved up to Premier Intermediate and were unlucky to be relegated, having been in a group with the two teams who made that final."

RTE broadcaster Marty Morrissey with Blackrock senior manager Fergal Ryan watching Na Piarsaigh and UCC. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
RTE broadcaster Marty Morrissey with Blackrock senior manager Fergal Ryan watching Na Piarsaigh and UCC. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

That's it the first Blackrock and Glen Rovers' county final since 1978 has generated huge interest in the game, even if there are restrictions on supporters attending.

"You could say it's the two form clubs, having both topped our groups. We are looking at a chance to redeem ourselves and this is the Glen's fifth final since 2014, they've won two and lost two, a very experienced side. We've a bit of experience too so when the ball is thrown in it'll come down to the day, it really will.

"I don't mind if it's a shocker of a game if we win but of course everyone is also hoping for a great game for Cork hurling." 

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