Tuesday 24 October 2017

Pain of Leinster loss the big motivating factor

DARREN NOLAN says the pain of losing the 2012 Leinster Club hurling final is driving his side on.

Last year Oulart-The Ballagh surprisingly lost out to the Offaly champions in the provincial final, a defeat that is still hurting, as they looked set to atone for past disappointments.

Down the long stretch back to the county final, it's been a rocky road for the reigning champions, but they still showed great character in battling their way from the jaws of defeat on several occasions to be still left standing and seeking their fifth title in a row.

Their season has been littered with inconsistency, but still they showed the character to maintain a one hundred per cent record on their path to the final. They have held off all challenges and are now looking forward to meeting Ferns for the first time in a decider.

'We've trained very hard,' said Nolan. 'Last year after the provincial final defeat it really hurt us. We may have found it difficult initially to get back at it, but once the training was organised, we got back together, and decided to take it on from there. We were back at it early this year and went at it very hard.

'It's a killer returning to training after losing the club final but having put it behind us we decided to set out on another journey. Last year, along with previous years, are behind us. This is a new journey but it's final days like this that make it all worthwhile.'

With Martin Storey in as manager, the players fed into his system.

'I was honoured to be handed the club captaincy. It's a great honour to captain this side as we seek a fifth in a row. That's a marvellous achievement by any group of players. We knew we could produce performances. While we have been lucky along the way this year, we rode that luck, and are still standing. That's the main thing at the moment. We have survived and are looking forward to Sunday and Wexford Park.

'The semi-final victory over Shelmaliers has completely altered the perception that our day had arrived. We were lucky to have overcome Faythe Harriers in the quarter-final. We have done it in patches this year, but we still have another big game on Sunday, and it's about getting to where we want to be.'

Martin Storey knows all about Ferns and is drilling into the team that this is a huge test.

'Martin knows what Ferns are capable of. I've been hearing all the time that we will be warm favourites going into the final. We are paying no heed of that.

'Remember last year Ferns could have slipped it over us, they are a real quality bunch of young hurlers. Ultimately we are going out to win but we will give Ferns the respect they deserve. They are in the final on merit and a huge threat to us.

'We may have the backdrop of being in past finals but Ferns will come into this game fresh and determined to give their loyal supporters something to remember.

'Let's hope it's a great final. We've had little time to suck in the hype but we are determined to retain our title.'

Wexford People