COURCEY Rovers manager Seán Guiheen is gearing up for a proper winter hurling joust as his side face into their Munster Club IHC opener on Saturday.
The TUS Gaelic Grounds is the venue (1.30pm) for the Ballinspittle/Ballinadee side’s semi-final clash with Limerick’s Mungret St Paul’s and Guiheen is expecting a battle.
“You find at this time of year that it’s a lot more physical, there’s more aggression, the ball is going that bit slower, there’s more contact,” he says.
“I find that the fancy hurling is gone, to an extent. There’s a lot of passion in Munster club hurling – we’re not only representing Courcey Rovers now but Cork. We want to go to the Gaelic Grounds and we want to make an impression, we want to give a massive performance, we don’t want to be pushed over.
“It’s another step up in standards – the pace, the physicality, the quality of the opposition.
“It’s a great challenge to see where you’re at and to relish. We certainly don’t want to be beaten in the physical stakes.”
After beating Castlelyons in the Co-op SuperStores Cork Premier IHC final on November 27, Courceys were into the swing of things quickly.
“To be fair, they were great,” Guiheen says.
“They had a few days off, obviously, and everyone enjoyed themselves but they were back training the Thursday after the county final and everyone was there.
“We had a good session and we trained on the Sunday, too. They’re all in good shape, they’re up for it and ready to go.”
In 2020, Courceys lost to Castlelyons in the semi-finals of the championship, so the potential was there.
“They weren’t a million miles away from winning a county,” Guiheen says, “they were in the final in 2018, only losing after a replay, and they were in a semi-final last year.
That template proved to be a successful one, with Guiheen crediting the RedFM Leagues with being a big help in terms of development.
“We didn’t really get out on to the field until May,” he says.
“We were very fortunate, we had a tough, worthwhile league campaign against Charleville, Fr O’Neills and Kilworth.
“Kilworth and Charleville were away, so for a barometer of where we were at it was great, especially to get to the final against Charleville. I think it helped us massively going forward because it showed where we were at and where we needed to tweak our game.
“It gave us a huge help going into the championship against Carrigaline, Éire Óg and Youghal. I felt that preparations were great going in as we had worked really hard and the buy-in from the lads has been massive.”
They will look to keep up their momentum, though the opposition are an unknown quantity.
“To be honest, we know very little,” Guiheen says.
“We saw highlights of their county final and, from what we saw, they’re a very good team, very young, they use the ball really well, very similar to the Limerick senior hurlers – work the ball out of defence and they’ve a strong inside forward line.”