KILKENNY junior champions, Thomastown, have been living the hurling dream these past fews months as they clocked up one easy enough win after the other in Leinster, and now they don’t want the lights to go out on their season in the All-Ireland final.
On Sunday the current Thomastown crew will go where no other outfit from the club went before when they contest the All-Ireland club junior final against Fullen Gales (Manchester) in glamorous Croke Park.
“You might dream about days like this, but now we are getting to live one,” said proud Thomastown manager, Paul Treacy. “It should be a great occasion, but only if we do the job properly and win the title.”
The manager admitted that Thomastown were “going well”. Midfielder Dessie Walsh is nursing a muscle strain, but he should be okay. However, goalie Dylan Walsh will miss the game through suspension, which means Darragh McGarry (17) will start his first match of the campaign.
“We have no issues, no worries with that,” the manager insisted. “Darragh knew he could be asked to step in and do the job at any time during the season. He is training well. He will cope.”
Mr Treacy said the final had generated great excitement in the area. He was talking to a man last week who hasn’t been in Croke Park since 1972. He was heading to the game on Sunday.
“For us this is serious stuff,” he insisted. “We have to keep the heads down and do the job. We are going to Croke Park to play a match, to win a match, which happens to be an All-Ireland final.
“We have been on a great journey, but now we have to finish off the job.
“It is hard to know what to expect from Fullen Gaels, but they will have our absolute respect.
“We have a great chance to win an All-Ireland, but it won’t be easy. The Fullen players will be all aged 24, 25 and so on. They won’t have any young, inexperienced lads.
“We know absolutely nothing about them.
“We tried to get a DVD of one of their games, but we couldn’t find one. It doesn’t matter.
“Our concentration is on being right and having everything right ourselves.”
He said it wasn’t hard to get the players to settle down after the great semi-final win over Kildorrery (Cork).
Mr Treacy and fellow team handlers, Ray Challoner, Mark Coone and John Donnelly kept things as normal.
“If we changed things, or took things handy, it might give off the wrong impression to the players,” the manger felt. “No, we kept it serious and business like as usual. We will do the same this week.
Very well focussed
“The players are very well focussed. They want to see out the job through. Fullen have nothing to lose. We are constantly being told we will win. This is an All-Ireland final. You don’t expect anything ease in an All-Ireland final, and I am sure we won’t get anything easy.”
Playing in Croke Park was a massive honour. To be in a final like this was a clubman’s dream, the manager felt.
“To run out in Croke Park for your club is wonderful,” he assured. “I am even looking forward to doing duty on the sideline myself. But we don’t want the dream to turn into a nightmare. There won’t be any complacency. This team doesn’t do complacency.
“We had plenty of reason to be going into games because we have won most of them easily, but there was never a hint of complacency. There won’t be any on Sunday.
“The team has been getting better,” Paul insisted. “The good habits they brought to every contest will be repeated on Sunday. That sort of idea is what keeps Kilkenny apart from everyone else. They never drop their guard. If that approach is good enough for them, it has to be good enough for us.”
Thomastown didn’t take up the offer from the GAA authorities to travel to Croke Park to give it the once over.
“They will travel early on Sunday and get a feel for the pitch and so on before the game. We have travelled too far to lose our way now,” Mr Treacy suggested.
“We have nothing but winning on our minds.”