Munster Club IHC final
Courcey Rovers v Kilmoyley (Kerry)
TUS Gaelic Grounds, 1.30pm
A familiar face lies in wait as Courcey Rovers chase Munster glory on Sunday.
However, whereas provincial club games can often bring a sense of travelling into the unknown, this time each side is well aware of what the other brings.
Ten years ago, John Meyler led Courceys to the county premier intermediate hurling title and, now, a decade on, he is involved with Kerry senior champions Kilmoyley, standing in their way as they look to add to their Cork crown.
Last year, as Courceys sought to fill the gap thrown up as a result of receiving a bye to the semi-finals, Meyler was on hand to provide them with a very beneficial challenge game. Courceys manager Seán Guiheen doesn’t lack for research material, but he knows that, in the end, it’s down to the team.
“We played them in a challenge match before the Valley Rovers game,” he says.
“He’s watched us recently, we’ve watched them recently, we’ve DVDs of each other and know each other inside out.
“Ultimately, it’s over to the players – they cross the white line at the end of the day and hopefully they’ll perform.”
After beating Castlelyons in the Co-op SuperStores Cork PIHC decider at the end of November, Courceys carried that momentum into Munster, seeing off Limerick’s Mungret St Paul’s after extra time at the Gaelic Grounds on December 11 before taking a well-deserved break.
“I just felt after the semi-final that we all probably needed a week off,” Guiheen says, “more mentally as opposed to physical fitness.
“We took a week off and we regrouped then, with three weeks to prepare for the Munster final. Obviously, it was the festive season and it was slightly hard to juggle things but they’re in good shape.
“The last two weeks have gone very well, there’s a great buzz in the camp and we’re looking forward to it.”
The 1-18 to 1-17 win against Mungret was a challenge, but ultimately a morale-boosting result to bank and draw upon.
“I had got a DVD of Mungret and I saw them in action the week before against the Galway champions,” Guiheen says.
“They play a very similar style to the Limerick senior team – they run it out of defence, they’re very comfortable on the ball, they’ve three dangerous inside forwards.
“We knew going up there that we had to play well and we did in the first half – at half-time we were five points up and I felt that it should have been eight or nine with the dominance we had.
“In the second half, they got a run on us and they scored in injury time to draw the game. Going into extra time, it felt to the players like we had lost the game, even though we didn’t.
“To regroup again and go out and perform like we did, up in the Gaelic Grounds against a very good team, it was very pleasing to get over the line.
“It was great for the players in terms of belief and, to be fair, they’ve been great all year, consistently performing no matter what the competition.”
And they will now look to take that one step further, with Guiheen hoping for a performance for the full hour.
“The message for us to get over to the players, really, is that every game is a bonus since after the county final,” he says.
“We’re just working really hard on getting a performance. We’re going up there and I want them to enjoy it and embrace it, to take off their shackles and give it their best shot.
“One of the key things is trying to get them to perform consistently over the hour – in the county final and the last match, we were maybe just playing for half a game whereas now you’re in a final and focusing on that hour and performing.
“Overall, it’s just getting that performance right. If it’s good enough, brilliant, and if we’re beaten by the better team on the day, congratulations to them. Performance is just the key thing for us on Sunday and enjoying the opportunity and embracing it.
“It’s the chance of a lifetime, we might never see it again.”