Loughmore-Castleiney aims to extend content winter

Nineteen-one but still not ready to declare – Loughmore-Castleiney’s incredible contribution to the 2021 club championship season will continue on Sunday as Champions Tipperary face Waterford’s Ballygunner in the Munster semi-finals.

Incredibly, this will be the 19th week in a row that most of the squad have played, with the majority also lined up for the club’s football team, which won the county title last month but saw their season come to an end in provincial quarter-finals last weekend. .

Éire Óg de Clare were their opponents but, typical of this season, the team had to shoot a few more minutes with extra time needed to separate them.

However, there was little time to absorb the blow, with all energy now directed purely to business as they prepare to make their way to Fraher Field. And how about that for a contrast? Two hours earlier, in Munster’s other semi-final, champions Limerick Kilmallock will end a seven-week game-less gap as they face off against team Cork Midleton.

It’s a barely believable schedule for the Premier team and one that highlights the difficulties that could deter clubs that might intend to become full members of the “dualing” society.

Winning appears to be the best tonic for dealing with any potential fatigue issue, as a number of teams have shown in the past.

As Meath made his way to the Croke Park pitch on June 2, 1991, they were only four games away from Leinster’s 17th title, or so they thought. In the end, it took them eight games to win the Delaney Cup.

Their four-game saga with Dublin has entered GAA folklore, but it’s often forgotten that the Royals needed a rerun to face Wicklow in the quarterfinals next time around. Maybe referee Noel Whelan stayed in the spirit of the season with a full-time whistle as Bernard Flynn pitched a winner at the last minute, but Sean Boylan’s side made amends in the replay. .

Laois, who also appeared in a semi-final rerun with Louth, was sent off before Offaly was beaten in the provincial final.

Meath and Dublin played a famous four-game Leinster saga in 1991

Eight days later, the team earned a one-point All-Ireland semi-final victory over Roscommon.

A four-week break before an All-Ireland final with Down was well deserved given the team had made nine league games in just 12 weeks.

Two years later, Armagh appeared in six Ulster games – including the famous day at the Athletic Grounds when twice Denis Holywood and John Grimley hit the net in the dying moments to turn a potential heavy loss into one. incredible win over Fermanagh – but didn’t. even make the provincial final.

This game with Erne County was a replay when it took them two games to beat Tyrone in the quarterfinals. The semi-final with Donegal also required two outings. Six games in eight weeks and not even a finalist’s medal.

Tyrone didn’t get a runner-up medal in 2005, instead doing better after a superb ten-game campaign that saw Sam Maguire number two for Red Hand County. Draws with Cavan, Dublin and Armagh meant Mickey Harte’s men faced a busy schedule with the first nine of those games played over a 16-week span.

Perhaps Loughmore-Castleiney can identify the closest with Derry’s Slaughtneil, who had their own incredible double runs in 2016 and 2017.

If all are fit and ready, 17 players faced off between the two teams led by current Kilcoo manager Mickey Moran and Michael McShane, who is preparing the pitchers for a big Ulster semi-final against Dunloy on Sunday.

Ulster’s back-to-back doubles – their camogs were also provincial champions in those seasons – threatened a much-noted tradition in Gaelic games at the time, the St Patrick’s Day All-Ireland Club Finals.

Michael McShane believes Slaughtneil would have beaten Na Piarsaigh in 2018 if the schedule had been different

On February 25, 2017, GAA matchmakers showed a bit more interest in the All-Ireland Hurling semi-final between Slaughtneil and Cuala. With the Derry squad footballers already qualified for the St. Patrick’s Day final at Croke Park, something should give if their howlers join them. As it stands, a Con O’Callaghan-inspired Cuala was too strong and any tough decisions around March 17 were avoided.

It’s their county and provincial campaigns over those two seasons that will resonate with Loughmore-Castleiney – as well as an All-Ireland Series game.

In 2016, from their final victory over Banagher in Derry on September 11 to their All-Ireland football quarter-final against London champions St Kiernan’s on December 11, Slaughtneil played nine times. A period of 16 weeks.

The following year, from another Derry hurling final victory over Banagher, this time on September 16, until their Ulster football final victory over Cavan Gaels on November 26, they played eight league games. A period of 11 weeks.

“Ulster and Munster are set to play in the All-Ireland semi-final, so if Slaughtneil keeps winning and Loughmore-Castleiney keeps winning, maybe we can meet and play the first half of hurling and the second halftime football, “joked Michael McShane, director of hurling for Slaughtneil. .

The Ballycastle native knows all about the bumps that come with such a tricky schedule and he believes if the club’s success had come a year apart there would be at least one All-Ireland in the lineup. [the camogie team won All-Ireland titles in 2017, ‘18 and ‘19].

“It kept Slaughtneil from winning the All-Ireland hurling and football titles,” McShane said.

“We went to the semi-finals against Cuala in February 2017 and Na Piarsaigh in January 2018 with only half the work done by these two teams in the same period simply because they were focusing on one code.

“You double the risk of injury; you have to do a lot of work to make sure the players are not overloaded for a series of games like that. You are trying to rest and recover and that is a very difficult thing to do.

“This is only my opinion, but it was no coincidence that in 2019 when we won Ulster but the footballers lost in the semi-finals in Derry [to Glen], and we had time to prepare, we probably produced our best performance ever here in the All-Ireland semi-final against Ballyhale.

“We had seven or eight weeks to focus on this game and while we lost [Colin Fennelly with a late goal to give the Kilkenny side a five-point win] we played some really good stuff and a lot of that was due to the fact that we were working on a single code.

“If it had been like this for Na Piarsaigh’s semi-final, we would have had a better chance and I think we would have beaten them. So were the footballers who lost to Nemo Rangers after extra time.”

Having Frankie McGrath in charge of both Loughmore-Castleiney teams is key to their success, said McShane, who had a good working relationship with Slaughtneil football manager Mickey Moran.

“For a double club to work you need two management teams who are going to put the players first,” he said.

A win for Michael McShane’s Slaughtneil on Sunday could open the possibility of a clash with Loughmore-Castleiney

“Both branches need to look at it and figure out what it takes to give the players the best chance to perform at their best in both sports. We had it in our management teams and that’s why we had this chance to succeed.

“Loughmore-Castleiney have the same manager on their teams and that makes things a lot easier.

“There are a lot of bumps in the road. Football managers and hurling managers want to do more than what you can actually do in a double club. In any given week you only have seven days and so you have a match, you need your days off so you only have a few days to practice and you’re trying to split that between two codes.

“Our model was that if there was a game on Sunday, that’s the code the players focused on that week. If it was a football game, they were practicing this. week. If it was screaming, it was the opposite. “

Recovery is obviously essential in situations like these, and McShane said it’s not just the physical end of things.

“You get the players massaged and in cryotherapy baths, all the usual things.

“The most important thing is to have days off, it’s as much mental recovery as it is physical recovery. They are players at their peak so it’s not the effort, c t is just the drudgery of having to go to the field six nights a week.

“If you can get away with it, go to the pictures, lay down in front of the fire and watch the Champions League, that’s as important as any physical recovery.”

For Loughmore-Castleiney, McShane believes Week 19 will be the most difficult of all, but if they manage to extend their season after this Sunday, he believes that everything could open for them.

“If they win this weekend, they won’t play the Munster final until January 9. They will have a great break.

“The problem for them is that their 19th week will be the most difficult of all as they face an absolutely superb Ballygunner team.

“If they recover from it, it will give them a chance to mentally refresh themselves as much as anything and they will be a very dangerous opponent to anyone.”


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