Munster club hurling: Kilmallock’s Mulcahy banking on Clare connection

Limerick champions looking to regain a title they twice won in Nineties

Kilmallock captain Graeme Mulcahy is gunning for Cratloe. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Kilmallock captain Graeme Mulcahy is gunning for Cratloe. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

 

Such is the Clare backdrop to Sunday’s Munster club hurling final that Kilmallock may need some reminding of where exactly they’re coming from.

They’re playing Clare champions Cratloe, who have been in the spotlight this season for their dual dream (only the hurling part of which survives).

Kilmallock are managed Ger ‘Sparrow’ O’Loughlin, who won two All-Irelands with Clare, and before that their manager was another Clare man, former All-Ireland-winning selector Tony Considine.

And they won’t be playing far from Clare territory either – the Gaelic Grounds is practically within puck-out distance of Cratloe, just over the border and down the Ennis Road.

Successful club

Having said that, club captain and intercounty star Graeme Mulcahy doesn’t deny O’Loughlin has given them an extra edge; they beat hot favourites Na Piarsaigh in the county final and also Cork champions Sarsfields in the Munster semi-final.

“Sparrow has made a big difference, definitely brought something new to the table,” says Mulcahy. “We had Tony Considine before that, won two counties with him, and now Sparrow has brought a little more discipline to it too, that we maybe didn’t have before.

Huge experience

“And I suppose, yeah, being a Clare man, he’ll know Cratloe well, and he’ll have watched them before. He knows they’re a very strong team, but sure we’ll be concentrating on ourselves. Any club that’s won a county, they always want to move on to bigger and better things. We’re hoping to do that on Sunday.

“We’ve worked hard to get this far. If you were following the Limerick championship, we scraped past Adare and Doon. They’d be equally as strong as us, and as strong as Na Piarsaigh. I think there’s definitely a very strong club scene in Limerick at the moment, which has helped raise the intercounty standard.

“And I think Na Piarsaigh winning the two Munster clubs [in 2011 and 2013] has really showed us that the bar can be set higher. We’ve tried to get to their standard.”

Mulcahy admits he has other motivations going onto Sunday’s final: anyone thinking of buying him a DVD for Christmas of the highlights of the hurling championship might want to reconsider, because he wasn’t able to watch the All-Ireland final or replay between Kilkenny and Tipperary, knowing Limerick had beaten Tipp, in Munster, and possibly should have beaten Kilkenny in the All-Ireland semi-final.

“No, I couldn’t watch those finals, knowing that they were there. The year before, it was a different feeling, with Clare having beaten us and we didn’t perform. But Kilkenny just beating us, and having beaten Tipp, we knew that we were well good enough to be there.

“Now that’s a place we want to be, and next year when it comes down to it, we hope to have that bit more maturity, that we can push on and beat the likes of Kilkenny.

“We definitely feel TJ Ryan is the man to drive us on, and I think the team is still young enough. In terms of physicality, it takes a couple of years to get to that level, and I think Limerick hurling is there now.”

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