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Sunday 15 September 2019

Fab four from the Martin's

Leinster Hurling Final countdown

Rory O'Connor
Rory O'Connor
Jack O'Connor
Joe O'Connor
Conor Firman

Pádraig Byrne

With four players in the panel on the last outing against Kilkenny - Rory O'Connor, Jack O'Connor, Joe O'Connor and Conor Firman - St Martin's contributes the biggest representation to the senior hurling panel. Ahead of this weekend's Leinster Final at Croke Park the atmosphere around the club is electric with a huge delegation set to travel to the capital and cheer on their boys, hoping they'll play a decisive part in bringing some well craved silverware back to the model county.

While a great fan of the club's fantastic four, former club chairman Mick Morrissey will be hoping for an altogether different result. A Kilkenny native, Mick is steeped in the black and amber and lined out for the cats at every level, scooping four All-Ireland titles - a senior title in 1992, junior in 1986, U21 in 1984 and minor in 1981 - along with a National Hurling League title in 1987. Understandably then, he'll be rooting for Brian Cody's men.

'I'm always a Kilkenny man when it comes to inter-county and I'll be a Kilkenny man on the 30th,' he laughed. 'Obviously when they're not playing Kilkenny, I'd be rooting for Wexford, but I'm hoping for a Kilkenny win in the final.'

Owing to his major involvement with St Martin's, Mick has watched the O'Connors and Conor Firman come through the ranks and says it was apparent early on that they had what it takes.

'In general, you'd know from an early age if lads have what it takes to make it,' he said. 'It's not all just skill and ability, but you have to have the right mindset and the ability to adapt. It's something that these lads have always had. They just live and breathe the game. Everything they did growing up revolved around hurling.'

'If you look at Jack O'Connor for example,' he continued.

'He's one of the most committed players on that panel. He doesn't start every time but he came on the last day (against Kilkenny) at the park and he had a huge impact.'

Speaking of the last outing, a member of An Garda Síochána, Mick was on duty at Wexford Park as the teams did battle.

'I think I nearly had about three heart attacks,' he laughs. 'But then, I was up in the press box and I think Liam Spratt was in the same boat as me. It was a brilliant game.'

So...being so close to four of the Wexford panel, but knowing Kilkenny hurling intimately too, how does Mick see things playing out?

'The last time out, I wasn't one bit confident,' he admits. 'Then when I saw the players returning, the likes of Cillian Buckley and Walter Walsh, I was a little bit more confident. But those boys looked rusty too. I think on Sunday, they'll be that bit sharper, but I think it'll go right down to the wire.'

'Wexford have gained so much confidence over Kilkenny in the last two years and, to give him his due, a lot of that is down to Davy (Fitzgerald).'

'I can't wait for it. It's going to be a great day out with the minor final on as well. I know it's an early throw in with that one, but I've no doubt that the Wexford crowd will pack their lunches and settle in for a great day of hurling.'

Wexford People

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