Fix­tures clash with camo­gie will di­vide club’s sup­port

New Ross Standard - - SPORT -

AS TWO of the top hurl­ing clubs go head to head, St. Martin’s will need to work a piece of magic if a cou­ple of their out­stand­ing play­ers are to be fit for next Sun­day’s AIB Le­in­ster Se­nior semi-fi­nal clash with Cuala in Par­nell Park (2 p.m.).

As the newly-crowned Wex­ford cham­pi­ons look ahead to their big­gest game for some time, they may have to plan with­out the ser­vices of their star young at­tacker, Rory O’Con­nor, along with his first cousin and full-back Pa­trick O’Con­nor, with both play­ers rated as ex­tremely doubt­ful for the game.

Nine­teen-year-old Rory played through the pain bar­rier in both Se­nior fi­nals, car­ry­ing an in­jury to the menisci in his right knee, the thin fi­brous car­ti­lages be­tween the sur­faces of some joints. He has been or­dered to rest for eight to ten weeks for fear of cre­at­ing a cru­ci­ate prob­lem.

He is joined on the in­jury list by Pa­trick O’Con­nor­who made the full-back berth his own dur­ing the cham­pi­onship cam­paign, cap­ping it with a fine fi­nal per­for­mance de­spite be­ing pit­ted against Gar­rett Sin­nott. Suf­fer­ing from a bulging disc in his back, he has been un­able to train in prepa­ra­tion for the game.

While the loss of one or both play­ers would be a huge blow, St. Martin’s re­main op­ti­mistic that they may yet be avail­able.

Club Chair­man, Mick Mor­ris­sey, said on Mon­day: ‘Both play­ers are ex­tremely doubt­ful but we re­main op­ti­mistic. It will be a race against time but we have not yet given up on the two play­ers.’

While not cast­ing the blame game to­wards any­one, Mor­ris­sey feels the num­ber of games played by this group are catch­ing up.

‘Rory played 20 cham­pi­onship games in 14 weeks, Se­nior hurl­ing and foot­ball along with Un­der-21 hurl­ing. We have an is­sue with chaps play­ing 20 matches in 14 weeks.

‘While we as a club had a lovely evening last Satur­day, the feast of St. Martin where we had eight cups on dis­play in the church for Mass for de­ceased mem­bers cel­e­brated by Fr. John O’Reilly, the num­ber of games is still a big is­sue.

‘While it’s a sad sit­u­a­tion to be in it’s still a great one,’ Mor­ris­sey added.

The club is also hit by an un­for­tu­nate clash of fix­tures which will di­vide sup­port in the parish as the Se­nior camo­gie play­ers fig­ure in their first pro­vin­cial fi­nal at Net­watch Cullen Park, Car­low, on Sun­day at 2.30 m.

‘There’s noth­ing we could do,’ Mor­ris­sey said. ‘I will miss my daugh­ter play­ing in the Le­in­ster fi­nal, hav­ing to at­tend Par­nell Park, but with the In­ter­me­di­ate camo­gie fi­nal part of a dou­ble-header they were not for change. It’s un­for­tu­nate, but we have to go with it, but a dou­ble vic­tory would help ease the pain.’

Mor­ris­sey is in no doubt that St. Martin’s are head­ing into the lion’s den against the Le­in­ster and All-Ire­land cham­pi­ons.

‘When they won the All-Ire­land on St. Pa­trick’s Day they put away the gear for six to eight weeks. They may have strug­gled in ear­lier cham­pi­onship games but they are peak­ing right now. They will be hit­ting form at the op­por­tune time as one could see against Dicks­boro.

‘But hav­ing said that, we are ca­pa­ble of putting it up to them even should Rory be miss­ing. We can match them for speed and hurl­ing but we are com­ing up against an ex­pe­ri­enced team, although sport can throw up strange re­sults. Look at Rath­new, ev­ery­one thought St. Vin­cent’s were in­vin­ci­ble.

‘While we have an is­sue with the num­ber of games the chaps are be­ing asked to play, it’s prob­a­bly part of our own mak­ing, as we give foot­ball the re­spect it de­serves which is what the County Board ex­pects.

‘This is an­other huge chal­lenge but one we are look­ing for­ward to.’

While Mor­ris­sey is firmly em­bed­ded in the St. Martin’s club, the En­nis­cor­thy-based Garda Sergeant would still know a thing or two re­gard­ing Cuala, hav­ing played with the club along­side Wex­ford play­ers such as Dave Bernie and Murty Dempsey, as well as Colm O’Leary, fa­ther of Eoin, who is a sub­sti­tute on the St. Martin’s Se­nior side, hav­ing won an­other county Mi­nor medal on Satur­day.

‘I am firmly em­bed­ded in St. Martin’s, of that there’s no doubt,’ Mor­ris­sey said.

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