Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
It’s a case of noisy neighbours of a different kind tomorrow afternoon, as Borris-Ileigh will look to continue to break the mould, and knock kingpins Ballyhale Shamrocks off their perch.
Tomorrow’s AIB All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship final represents a return to the site of the All-Ireland final which saw plenty of players on both sides involved.
However, unlike the intercounty battle, these sides’ experience of playing at GAA HQ couldn’t be further apart.
This is Borris’ first trip to Croker since 1987, when captain Richard Stakelum and his side won the All-Ireland title at the first – and only – attempt to-date.
The Shamrocks, by contrast, are playing in their ninth All-Ireland final, losing just one – their first, against Cork’s Blackrock, and have have been a dominant force in the club hurling scene for the past decade.
— Beat 102 103 (@beat102103) January 9, 2020
“Croke Park is a different day, the pitch is bigger.” said star forward TJ Reid, whose 11 points (10 frees) were crucial to them overcoming Derry’s Slaughneil in a tense semi.
“Hopefully our experience can dwell on that, it’s Borris-Ileigh’s first time in Croke Park so we’re hoping that will go against them.”
Given the fierce intercounty rivalry we’ve seen between this teams, it seems crazy that this is the first time since the competition began 50 years ago that we’ll have a Tipperary v Kilkenny club hurling final – mind you, Toomevara’s were the Premier’s last representatives at this stage 26 years ago, losing to a two-in-a-row winning Sarsfields.
And for Borris wing-forward Dan McCormack, it’s a very different feeling to the county decider back in August.
“It’s very hard to escape it, it’s all people are talking about around the town. Obviously the older generation will have great memories, and there’s great stories going around of what it was like back then.
— Beat 102 103 (@beat102103) November 24, 2019
“We’re going into the unknown, the newer generation, and we’re not too sure what to expect. But excitement is the key word everyone is feeling at the moment.”
You can hear our full interviews with both Dan and TJ in this week’s Sportsbeat Roundup by clicking below.