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16 Jan 2022

“We feel we didn't do ourselves any justice in the 2020 final" - Borris-Kilcotton boss Comerford

LAOIS SENIOR HURLING FINAL PREVIEW

“We feel we didn't do ourselves any justice in the 2020 final" - Borris-Kilcotton boss Comerford

It may be less than three months since Borris-Kilcotton lost the delayed 2020 senior hurling final but manager Ciaran Comerford is convinced that his side are a different animal as they gear up for their second County final of the year.

Back in August, they fell to Clough-Ballacolla in the County final and on Sunday they will square off again with plenty of unfinished business.

“We feel we didn't do ourselves any justice in the 2020 final and I suppose it was a disruptive period as well for ourselves. We had good players with injuries and the week before that final, we had players isolating because of Covid.

“We have also got a couple of lads up from the U17 grade so we are a different outfit than we were two and a half months ago but we will see what next Sunday goes.”

There was no time to feel sorry for themselves after the 2020 County final defeat either. That could have went either way but all in sundry in the club were determined to get back on the horse and plough on and Comerford believes getting back down to brass tax so soon after the defeat may have been an advantage.

“It has been a quick turnaround. That's the beauty of it given the nature of how the last one went for us. It is great to have an opportunity straight away to get back up on the horse and work towards this one.

“It can be a long winter and I learned myself what it was like in 2013 when we lost the final. It was a long wait, waiting a full calendar year to get back at it again.”

His first job as manager was to rally the troops and take the learnings to move forward into the 2021 championship and he feels that they have done that.

“Emotions would have been running high. I suppose it is a human thing to look outwards before you look inwards. In the early days after the 2020 final defeat there would have been a bit of that and dare I say it, the blame game.

“Ultimately, we didn't turn up as a package and when we stripped it all back and began to look inward to see what could work on, we knew we weren't a bad outfit and we have proven that since and it was really just stripping it back to the bare bones and the basics.”

Things didn't go to plan straight away. A draw against big outsiders Abbeyleix in the opening round, a game Abbeyleix should have won, was a reality check that they needed and since then, they have improved with every passing game.

“Given the way the first round game went for us against Abbeyleix, a lot of people would be saying that we should be beating Abbeyleix but on the day, they were very, very good and should have beaten us.

“The next game against Camross was much improved for us and the Rathdowney-Errill game probably didn't have the same championship, knockout feel to it like the others did. It was great to build and looking back on it, the fight we showed in the last few minutes of that Abbeyleix game to get a draw out of it has helped us and gave us confidence to kick on,” explained the Borris-Kilcotton manager.

Their second half display against Camross in the semi final was probably their best half of hurling all year as they battled against a strong breeze hoping to cling onto a five point lead. Their game management came to the fore and Comerford admitted that is something they look at a lot.

"It is something we speak about a lot when it comes to championship games. You have to manage the game and it might not have looked like it to the people in the stand but it was probably a six or seven point breeze and it was far from over.

“We spoke about a few things. No goals was one, when we get opportunities, just stay plugging away on the scoreboard.

“Camross came back at us straight away and got two points back to bring it back to three but you would have to be happy with the lads our lads played. I thought our use of the ball was exceptional.”

Aaron Dunphy has been in free scoring form all year and is one of the form forwards in Laois. Comerford explained that giving him a bit of freedom coupled with an excellent support cast has seen Dunphy flourish.

"Aaron has had great freedom with us since he has come back from the County. He relishes that role. He is a quality hurler but he is backed up by quality hurlers around him. You could argue that he was quiet the last day but he still scored three points.”

With dressing rooms open, no restrictions on supporters attending games and a bit more of a normal feel to the build up the final, the former Roscommon manager is enjoying the build up to the clash with their local rivals in the final.

“You are playing each other at least twice a year between league and championship and down through all the grades, they would have played each other in countless finals. It is a derby and there will be an edge to it but that is great.

“There is a different feeling about this one. Lads are really getting to enjoy it and experience it. You are able to round up support and simple things like conversations with people in the shop, that wasn't happening with the last final for obvious reasons.”

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