The Borris-Ileigh panel of players pictured celebrating their famous win. Picture: Eamonn McGee
Johnny Kelly is widely acknowledged as a top class hurling coach and manager. And, with Borris-Ileigh he has pieced together a terrific management team featuring Philip Kenny, Martin Maher, Philip Maher and Angelo Walsh, but in the aftermath of the AIB Munster Senior Club Hurling Championship final win over Ballygunner at Páirc Uí Rinn in Cork on Sunday the Portumna man was eager to deflect praise away from himself and onto his players, especially the key leaders on his team.
“It’s a great moment for Borris-Ileigh - don’t mind me,” Johnny Kelly told the Tipperary Star.
“You can’t do anything without players and they have players in Borris-Ileigh. I have always said it. I am so thrilled for everyone here - it’s an emotional day and it’s a really brilliant day for the Borris-Ileigh players and for the effort that they have put in. I think they really deserved that, they are unbelievable.”
“You have great leaders in that dressing room,” Johnny Kelly revealed.
“Dan (McCormack) spoke brilliantly well at half-time just like Brendan (Maher) and Paddy (Stapleton); these are great guys. People look at me and say it is Johnny Kelly this and Johnny Kelly that, but when you have men like that in the dressing room - good Tipperary hurlers and good men with great heart - the credit belongs there.”
To read the TipperaryLive.ie report on the AIB Munster Senior Club Hurling Championship final which Borris-Ileigh won by a single point (1-12 to 1-11) against Ballygunner please click here.
During a frantic second half Borris-Ileigh edged in front only to get hit with a Ballygunner goal which could have wrenched the trajectory of this decider away from the Tipperary champions. Johnny Kelly, however, was thrilled to note the reaction of his players to that key moment in this contest.
“It’s a great one to win. It’s a Munster final and they are not easy to win,” Johnny Kelly explained.
“It was down to great heart and great determination. I think that when they got the goal we could have disappeared, but, no, we stayed at it and we went after it again. And, that has been the case all year. This team is built on resilience and no little heart.”
Ballygunner, of course, are as sophisticated as they come in terms of their style of play, but plenty of hurling intellect can be located out Borris-Ileigh way and Johnny Kelly’s men were prepared to face the challenge posed.
“We set up in a specific way,” Johnny Kelly revealed.
“We went long and we didn’t allow them to break from the back. We tried to shut down the source of their attacks. And, thankfully that happened. It didn’t always work out for us and it didn’t look pretty, but, you know what, we made up for it in determination.
“Ballygunner are an excellent team. They are littered with inter-county players all over the field and if you give these guys time and space they will do you damage - severe damage. So, we just could not allow that to happen. And, we didn’t today, thankfully.”
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