Everyone knows the glorious history that the Ballyhale Shamrocks have built. However, it’s incredible to see the hunger is there to win even more...
“Every game you go out you want to win,” said Joey Holden when asked to explain just how the most successful club in the All-Ireland roll of honour keep things going.
“When you lose a game it does drive you on. The calibre of player present in the side has always spurred us on.
“You want to win every game every year,” he said. “It doesn’t always work out that way, but there is a good hunger in the side this year, especially with the new team over us.”
That new team is the management duo of Andy Moloney and Colm Bonnar, the men behind the drive to the club All-Ireland final meeting with Kilmallock on St Patrick’s Day. Their introduction has revitalised the side, Holden reckoned, giving them the impetus that helped sweep up a 15th county title and eighth provincial crown.
“Quite often you’ll find that a new manager brings a freshness to a side, especially at club level,” he said. “There’s been a fresh approach in a number of things, but it’s more about the players buying into those ideas and put in the commitment.
“We’ve thrived on it so far,” Holden added. “Hopefully now we can finish the job off.”
The Shamrocks have impressed en route to the final, especially in the weather-beaten days where the came through tough ties that required extra-time - and nerves of steel.
“We weren’t the only ones,” he said. “Kilmallock had to come through extra-time as well. Those conditions bring the best out of teams - the ball isn’t moving as fast and the scorelines aren’t as high and you need that bit of luck to push yourself over the line.
“Your stamina has been built up from earlier in the year, while those type of games bring you on more and more,” he said. “The fitter you get the better you’ll last.”
And Holden knows that they’ll have to be at their best against Kilmallock.
“They’ve been fairly impressive in their campaign,” he said of the Limerick side. “The game against Cratloe was an amazing match and they were just as good against Portaferry. We’ll really focus on them now in the time leading up to the game.”
The Shamrocks might have been tipped as favourites once they came out of Kilkenny, but any idea of having a Number One tag on their backs doesn’t wash with Holden
“I think the idea of selecting a favourite comes from the opinions of others,” he said. “As far as we’re concerned we have a panel of 30/35 players who feel we should win the final - and I’m sure Kilmallock feel the same. The favourites tag won’t concern either side.
“Look at the strides Limerick have made with their county team,” he continued. “Kilmallock have provided some of their main players, so you’d know the likes of Gavin O’Mahony and Graeme Mulcahy. They’re big players for Kilmallock, so we’ll have to work hard against them to try and win the game.”
And what a game to be in - Croke Park on March 17.
“Anyone who knows anything about club hurling knows what happens in Croke Park on Patrick’s Day,” he said. “It’s great to be a part of it.”