Maureen O'Meara (FBD Insurance) and Michael Berkery (FBD Insurance) pictured with Borris-lleigh joint-captains Sean McCormack and Conor Kenny and Kiladangan captain Joe Gallagher. Picture: Eamonn McGe
The Kenny name has been central to all of the big days enjoyed by the Borris-Ileigh GAA Club going back the generations. And, the famed club would hardly have been in this years decider had it not been for the enormous contribution of Conor Kenny - better known to many as “Moose”.
With seven points from play in the semi-final against Kilruane MacDonagh's he almost single-handedly shot down the favourites with the kind of performance which has caused many to sit up and take notice.
Conor Kenny has been in and out of the Tipperary senior hurling squad for a few seasons and even gave a stint on the senior football panel as well. But right now, despite the questions about whether he would like to get back in with Tipp, he is concentrating on Borris-Ileigh.
“We'll keep the focus on Borris' for now. The lads put in a great shift to win the semi-final. We knew how good Kilruane MacDonagh's are and we had to close them down. Some days those efforts go over the bar and some days they don't - I left a few behind me as well, but we were just delighted to get out with the win. I'm fairly confident when I get the ball in the scoring area of getting a score, but some days they don't go over. On a different day they can go astray,” Conor Kenny explained.
Conor Kenny was there when it all went so horribly wrong for Borris-Ileigh against Thurles Sarsfields in the final two years ago.
And, he knows the pain of losing a final without ever actually performing to your potential.
So, with last year having fallen by the wayside 2019 was to be a make or break season - they are back in the final now and just a victory away from bridging that gap which stretches way back to 1986 when Paddy Doyle coached them to county, Munster and All-Ireland club glory.
“When we sat down at the start of the year it was all about getting back to the county final. So, we are very happy to be here now.
“We believe in ourselves and we have a system there which we play to - we just keep plugging away; even when frees and other things are going against us.
“We know what we have in the dressing room and we were just thrilled to come out on the right side in the semi-final,” Conor Kenny said.
“We didn't perform at all the last time we were in the final and the occasion probably got the better of us. It's all about getting a performance from ourselves on Sunday and doing ourselves justice on the day rather than studying Kiladangan too much. If we can bring our performance and work rate we will be there in the final run-in. We have a great spirit in the group and days like the semi-final are what you live for really,” Conor added.
Conor Kenny also pointed to the influence of coach Johnny Kelly as being central to the development of the Borris-Ileigh team. The Portumna man has a serious record at club level and takes up the coaching role with Offaly under manager Michael Fennelly for the 2020 season. But Philip Kenny, Martin Maher, Philip Maher and Angelo Walsh are also serious men on the Borris' line and have experience to match their enthusiasm.
“When Johnny came in to us a few seasons back he brought a level of belief to us. He is a serial winner having done it with Portumna and he has a serious record.
“When you keep winning you get more and more belief and he told us at the start of the year that we would get to a county final. So, we are delighted to be here now and looking forward to Sunday,” Borris-Ileigh joint-captain Conor Kenny said.
COUNTY FINAL MATCH DETAILS
Sunday, November 3
FBD Insurance Séamus Ó Riain Cup Final
JK Bracken's v Holycross-Ballycahill in Semple Stadium, Thurles @ 12.15pm ET
FBD Insurance County Senior Hurling Championship Final
Borris-Ileigh v Kiladangan in Semple Stadium, Thurles @ 2.30pm ET
The Kiladangan team which beat Nenagh Éire Óg in the recent county semi-final: Barry Hogan, David Sweeney, James Quigley, Fergal Hayes, Declan McGrath, Alan Flynn, Darren Moran, Jack Loughnane, Johnny Horan, Dan O'Meara, Willie Connors, Joe Gallagher, Tadhg Gallagher, Paul Flynn, Billy Seymour. Subs used: Seán Hayes, Andy Loughnane, Martin Minehan.
The Borris-Ileigh team which beat Kilruane MacDonagh's in their recent county semi-final: James McCormack, Séamus Burke, Paddy Stapleton, Liam Ryan, Seán McCormack, Brendan Maher, Ray McCormack, Tommy Ryan, Dan McCormack, Kieran Maher, Niall Kenny, Conor Kenny, Kevin Maher, Jerry Kelly, James Devaney. Subs used: Jack Hogan.