Borris-Ileigh's Dan McCormack and TJ Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks) pictured ahead of Sunday's AIB All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship final at Croke Park, Dublin on Sunday, January 19 (2pm).
The brave Borris-Ileigh men are set to really rock Croke Park on Sunday, January 19 (2pm) - Johnny Kelly's men enter the AIB All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship final as distinct underdogs against Ballyhale Shamrocks, but the outfit led by joint-captains Conor Kenny and Seán McCormack are ready to give this decider every ounce of themselves. Please read on for more details on Sunday's final, for links to interviews with Johnny Kelly, Paddy Stapleton, Conor Kenny and that man Brendan Maher along with complete details of the Borris-Ileigh senior panel and back room team.
The TipperaryLive.ie coverage of the All-Ireland club hurling final is in association with Ryan's of Camden Street (Dublin).
To read the TipperaryLive.ie interview with Borris-Ileigh manager Johnny Kelly please click here.
Here is our interview with Borris-Ileigh full-back Paddy Stapleton.
Next up are the thoughts of Borris-Ileigh joint-captain Conor Kenny.
And, finally we have an interview with Brendan Maher.
To reach this juncture Borris-Ileigh have ploughed their way through a thrilling campaign - first up they dismissed the defending county champions Clonoulty-Rossmore (1-18 to 1-15) before booking their place in the knock-out stage courtesy of a 3-18 to 1-15 win over Toome.
In the county quarter-finals Johnny Kelly's men beat Drom & Inch (3-11 to 0-18), Kilruane in the semi-finals (0-16 to 0-15) and Kiladangan in the final (1-15 to 1-12).
Meanwhile the provincial campaign featured a 1-17 to 3-8 semi-final win over Glen Rovers and culminated in a final win over Ballygunner (1-12 to 1-11). Then, of course, Borris-Ileigh beat St Thomas’ (Galway) in the recent All-Ireland club hurling semis (1-21 to 1-14).
Kilkenny legend Henry Shefflin is the manager of Ballyhale Shamrocks and his starting team is likely to feature outstanding players like Joey Holden, Evan Shefflin, Michael Fennelly, Richie Reid, Adrian Mullen, Brian Cody, TJ Reid and Colin Fennelly, but Borris-Ileigh have some serious men to call on, too. The defending champions will have to plan to deal with individuals like Brendan Maher, James Devaney, Dan McCormack and Conor Kenny while Ballyhale will also have to match Borris-Ileigh's heart.
With Portumna current Borris-Ileigh boss Johnny Kelly was a member of Jimmy Heverin's management team which delivered All-Ireland club titles in 2006 and 2008. Kelly succeeded Heverin as manager and duly delivered the 2009 All-Ireland club title. Kelly then steered Portumna to the 2010 All-Ireland club final, but the Galway champions lost out to Ballyhale after a thriller.
And, at this remove it is interesting to note that in 2010 Johnny Kelly’s Portumna side faced into an All-Ireland club final chasing a third successive title and, of course, they were red-hot favourites against a Ballyhale Shamrocks team who, ultimately, beat them with five points to spare (1-19 to 0-17).
Now those final roles are reversed; the Ballyhale Shamrocks are chasing history and Johnny Kelly’s Borris-Ileigh are cast in the role of potential party poopers.
“That was our third year on the road and we had a feeling that the pressure got to us to deliver the three in-a-row,” Johnny Kelly told the Tipperary Star.
“It is quite a pressurised situation to do a two in-a-row or a three in-a-row.
“Portumna, obviously, delivered the second one and then we were really pushing on for the third. Ballyhale are now in that position where they want to put back-to-back titles. They are the best team in the country by a mile and have been for the last number of years. It's within their grasp to take that two in-a-row, but we really will have a say in that.”
BORRIS-ILEIGH BACK ROOM TEAM
The Borris-Ileigh management and back room team reads as follows - manager: Johnny Kelly (Portumna, Galway), selectors: Philip Kenny, Martin Maher, Philip Maher & Angelo Walsh (S&C coach), physio: John Butler & Declan Maher, doctor: Kevin Delargy, kit man: Diarmuid Kinane, water boys: Séamus Ryan & Cian Stapleton, stats man: Martin Ryan, video man: Robert Healy, ball boy: Martin Fahy, bus driver: Joe Kennedy, club chairman: Mark Stapleton, club secretary: Gerry Treacy, club treasurer: Henry Groome and PRO: Philip Fahey.
BORRIS-ILEIGH SENIOR PANEL
The full Borris-Ileigh senior hurling panel reads as follows: James McCormack, Séamus Burke, Paddy Stapleton, Liam Ryan, Seán McCormack (joint-captain), Brendan Maher, Ray McCormack, Tommy Ryan, Dan McCormack, Kieran Maher, Niall Kenny, Conor Kenny (joint-captain), Kevin Maher, Jerry Kelly, James Devaney, Ciarán Hackett, Jody Harkin, Jack Hogan, Ciarán Cowan, Thomas Fahy, Matthew Stapleton, Maurice Ryan, Micheál Carey, Ryan Murphy, Vincent Stapleton, David O’Connor, Declan Ryan, Aaron Rabbitte, Patrick O’Connell, Michael Ryan & Shane Kenny.
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