Saturday, November 26
Quaid Park, Coolyroe, Co Limerick
Throw-in at 1pm
Fossa manager Adrian Sheehan is adamant that his charges must improve in their proficiency to win primary possession around the middle of the field, as they prepare to face Limerick champions, Feohanagh/Castlemahon, in the Munster club JFC semi-final at Quaid Park, Coolyroe on Saturday at 1pm.
Despite their stunning extra-time victory over neighbours Listry in the recent county decider, Sheehan and his management team are certainly not resting on their laurels. As a result, they are instantly targeting an improved showing in the kick-outs battle, if they are to make a serious impression in the upcoming provincial campaign.
“That was the biggest thing that we took out of it, 100 per cent. There were periods in the second half where we were just well out of it in the middle of the field. Listry completely dominated us, and that’s something that we’re going to have to work on, because there was a good bit of that against Ardfert as well in the semi-final. We would be silly if we don’t try to address that,” he said.
“Having said all that, the last two times we played Listry, we were behind coming down the stretch, so we said if we were going to be behind, don’t panic, keep doing the same thing again, we’ve been there before, and I suppose that little bit of experience counted.
“There was no panic, no lobbing high balls into the square, it was keep doing the same things again, keep pushing on, and we got our rewards out of it. But we can’t put ourselves in that position going forward. You’ll get out of jail once or twice, but you won’t get out of jail forever,” he added.
As a manager, Sheehan is openly living the dream right now, working with players like David and Paudie Clifford, with the added bonus of having former Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice as a member of his backroom team, alongside Kevin Myers, Derry O’Sullivan, Ken O’Sullivan and Mike Cahalane.
“Last Wednesday night training, David and Paudie were below there, leading the line again, and you’re there thinking to yourself ‘lads, you’ve had a hard year, take it easy’ but no, they were the ones that were driving the session, and everybody then comes up to that level. I can only imagine what it’s like inside with Kerry when these fellas are inside with you.
“We’re just getting a taste of it now, which is brilliant. It is hard to believe, to be honest with you. The other thing, I must say, is that you have to give credit to the Kerry strength and conditioning people, because these guys are conditioned, they’re able to do this, I don’t know what they’re doing, but whatever they’re doing, it’s top notch.
“But you often look at the likes of Dr Crokes, and these teams, their county players can go 12 months of the year playing football, so we have to get used to it. It’s great to have that, but it’s exceptional for these fellas – county championship, the All-Ireland, everything they have gone into, they have excelled in. It’s dream stuff for them really.
“Eamonn Fitzmaurice is actually unbelievable. I can see how he is so regarded throughout the country. The big thing is that he just brings a simpleness to the whole thing. It’s not complicated, it’s all about doing the small things right. If you can do the small things right, your game will go to another level.
“There’s a huge emphasis on not giving away the ball cheaply, there’s a huge emphasis on work-rate, and these are just the simple things. He also brings these ideas to the game, different ideas, football just goes around inside in his brain, it’s unbelievable.
“He brings a huge calmness to everything. Sometimes we can be a bit panicky ourselves, giving out about one thing or another, but everything is just so calm with Eamonn. You’re talking about one of the brains of GAA here, and a little bit like Paudie and David, we’re privileged to be working alongside Eamonn,” stressed Sheehan.
On the injury front, Fossa rested a lot of their regulars for last weekend’s comprehensive O’Donoghue Cup defeat to Dr Crokes and, at this juncture, have just one serious doubt for Saturday in wing-back Ruairi Doyle, who missed the county final with a knock. Fellow defender Dan O’Connell, who returned from San Francisco for the Listry game, will be available for selection.
On this weekend’s opponents, who are entering the game off the back of a Munster quarter-final win over Shamrocks of Waterford, the Fossa bainisteoir is not taking anything for granted, especially with All-Ireland-winning hurler Seamus Flanagan in fine form with the big ball for Feohanagh/Castlemahon in recent weeks.
“It’s one of the beautiful things about this competition. We’re on the phone, we’re talking to people around Limerick trying to find out as much as we possibly can, people we haven’t spoken to for years and years. We did get a look at their game against Shamrocks, and what we’re kind of pulling out of it really is that there are a lot of similarities between ourselves and themselves,” stated Sheehan.
“They work very, very hard, and we know that we won’t have a second on the ball, they’ll be down on top of us. They get in behind the ball, but then they really come at you in waves. Then you add in the Seamus Flanagan factor, but there’s also Alan Roche in the middle of the field, he got eight points the last day, he’s an exceptionally good footballer.
“The one thing that we’ve taken out of it is that, if we don’t work harder than Castlemahon, we won’t win the game, it’s as simple as that. It will come down to whoever works hardest on the day. They will have plenty of knowledge about us, I would imagine a lot more than we would have on them, but ultimately, it will come down to whoever works hardest on the day. I can guarantee you that one.”
Saturday is a special day for Feohanagh/Castlemahon, and the surrounding areas, with a significant crowd expected at Quaid Park. The Shannonside kingpins can’t be under-estimated, and they will definitely give this a huge shot, but with the record of Kerry teams in this competition, Fossa are virtually certain to advance to the Munster final.
It will be a unique occasion to witness All-Star footballers and hurlers on the same pitch, but in the expectation that the Kingdom representatives will improve their collective half-back, midfield, and half-forward sectors, when it comes to getting their hands on the ball, David Clifford, and others, can do the damage on the scoreboard to keep the Fossa fairytale going into December.