St Thomas favourites to become champions
‘We want to do the business on Sunday and that is exactly what we intend to do.’ - St Thomas manager John Burke.
By Ray Silke
It is an exciting time in the parishes of Kilchreest and Peterswell as St Thomas prepare for Sunday's All-Ireland club final clash with Kilcormac-Killoughey at Croke Park (2pm).
No doubt too, that there is lots of giddiness and a bit of loose talk in some quarters about their chances of success. However, if there is, none of it is coming from the St Thomas' team manager John Burke, who is taking the whole thing in his stride.
"These chances only come once in a lifetime for a club and we have to take the chance when it comes,” John Burke says.” We are going to give this one good go on Sunday and we don’t intend letting it slip. In a few months it is hard to know what could happen, lads could go away and stuff like that. We want to do the business on Sunday and that is exactly what we intend to do."
However Burke says he is treating Sunday’s All Ireland final as just another game in which his players must perform to their highest level.
"We are not asking the lads to do anything that we don't ask them to do every day they go out - and that is to perform to the best of their ability. If they do that, you cannot ask for any more. It is just another game of hurling and you have to go out and try to win it, the same as the other team."
Burke, who is down to earth and logical in his assessment of the club's chances, has a huge and passionate belief in the entire panel at his disposal.
“I’m not being cocky or anything like that, but there is more in them. If we can all hit the right note on the day, it will take one hell of a team to stop us,” he says.
“I believe that if we get the performance right, it will do the trick. The lads play the game the way it should be played, and they aren’t afraid of anything. They play the ball fast and they are all very skilful and we have a lot of leaders all over the field which is fantastic."
Must play to our full ability
Burke, who has six sons on the panel, is respectful of Kilcormac-Killoughey and their chances. He and the management team of Jimmy Kelly and Justin Flannery are taking nothing for granted.
" Kilcormac is a super team and Loughgiel was unbelievable too. If we don’t play to our full ability on Sunday, we won’t win it. If we do, I’ll be happy and hopefully it will be enough to win. Our backs are skilful and our forwards can take scores, so, if we use the spaces, I’d be confident.
Teams like St Thomas have watched the likes of Portumna, Sarsfields and Clarinbridge all through the years, getting to Croke Park and winning All-Irelands, and now it is their chance, he says.
“We always thought it would be wonderful if some day we could be there. Now we are and it is super. It’s a great day for the kids, supporters and the whole parish and they’ll enjoy it, but we have a job to do.
“There has been a massive effort put in by a great bunch of people in the club, from chairman, treasurer, secretary to the executive committee to have everything in place for next Sunday. There is a fantastic buzz in the parish and it has been a great lift to everyone,” he says.
However, he says, it is now the team’s job to win a hurling match.
“The players have to keep their heads down and focus on the job in hand. It doesn’t matter if the game was in the front lawn or Croke Park, you have to compete.”