GAA Editor @BrianGBarry
Seamus Kennedy says Nemo Rangers showed Clonmel Commercials where bar is set
Last Updated: 27/11/19 6:53pm
When the Munster final showdown between Nemo Rangers and Clonmel Commercials was confirmed, immediately the laptops were at the ready to fill columns inches with memories of the 2015 provincial decider.
Four years ago, Michael Quinlivan's late goal sealed a dramatic victory for the Tipperary side, and the Lee-siders are gunning to set the record straight this weekend.
But there's been a more recent meeting between the sides. On the August bank holiday Monday earlier this year, a challenge match was arranged between the two clubs.
Given that the Cork U20s had won the All-Ireland final on the Saturday and the Rebels' senior side finished their Super 8s campaign on the Sunday, Clonmel were not expecting Nemo to travel with their full complement.
But it was a wake-up call for Clonmel.
"Something that really opened our eyes that day was Mark Cronin, who won an All-Ireland final on the Saturday, and Paul Kerrigan, who had played with Cork the day before, were both there on the Monday bank holiday," recounted Seamus Kennedy, who was watching from the sideline due to his ongoing involvement with the Tipp hurlers...
"I left that day and I was going, 'Jesus, what the hell is going on here?' To be honest, we felt that we were going well at the time and Nemo gave us a bit of a licking that day.
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"It kind of made us sit back a bit and go, 'Hold on a second here. This is why Nemo are so successful. These guys are well entitled to a weekend off, but, now, they're in Clonmel on the bank holiday Monday playing Clonmel Commericals in a challenge match.'
"The result wasn't pretty, but it probably made us wake up, sit up, and take notice that this is the level that these guys are operating at that we need to get to."
It comes as no surprise to the All-Ireland winning hurler that the Cork club are still in the hunt for silverware:
"Absolutely not surprised that Nemo are in a Munster club final. They've been knocking around every year.
"I felt that if we got out of Tipp, which is very difficult, we'd have a good chance."
Of course, 2015 won't be far from the minds of the Clonmel contingent when they take to the field on Sunday.
"Ah yeah, that's it," Kennedy smiled, when asked if that Munster triumph was his career highlight.
"That's number one.
"That's not to devalue anything I've been lucky enough to win with Tipp or anything like that, but the couple of days in Clonmel after that...Clonmel had knocked on the door a couple of times in the '90s in Munster Club Finals and not gotten over the line.
"When we did, to see the reaction of all of those players that played...it just blew us away, to be honest.
"Obviously it's the cliche, winning with the people you grew up, but that's what it is. The people you grew up with, your family and your friends.
"My Grandfather played with Commericals in the '60s on the three-in-a-row team and there are a few other lads like that. There's just that tradition and that thing of being involved with the club that's just that bit extra special.
"[I remember] meeting my parents after the game. My brother and my grandmother, say, who goes to all the Commercials matches. It was her husband who would have played in those games in the '60s and unfortunately he's not here now. To see what it meant to her and that generation of Clonmel people on the pitch afterwards, tears in their eyes and everything like that, it was just unbelievable really, memories you could hold forever."
However, Kennedy knows that win will count for little on Sunday.
"[It's] a bit different now," he said. "We've probably six or seven lads facing into their first Munster club final. Six I think starting from the last day if that's how it stays. It's new to them but there are a good few of us who have had the experience which is good, the younger lads can draw on that.
"We're really looking forward to it. We probably would have always looked at the likes of Nemo and Dr Crokes and felt that with the group of players that we had that we could be operating at that level.
"But it's taken us four years to get back here. So we're just trying to make the most of it, really, and delighted that we are back there."