Captain Smith ready to let Portumna’s hurling do the talking

“Over the past few years we, as a panel of players, have made the life choice to devote ourselves completely to hurling and the effort that has gone in has been huge.”

Portumna captain Leo Smith lifts the Galway County Senior Hurling Championship cup. Will he get the honour to do the same with the Tommy Moore on St Patrick’s Day?

Portumna captain Leo Smith lifts the Galway County Senior Hurling Championship cup. Will he get the honour to do the same with the Tommy Moore on St Patrick’s Day?

Talking to Portumna captain Leo Smith is like charging a mobile phone.

His desire and belief in his team-mates and club is infectious, and it is easy to see why Johnny Kelly and the Portumna panel were happy with him being given the captain’s armband for the season.

Leo is one of three Smith brothers on the Portumna starting 15. The other two are his 26-years-old younger twin brothers.

Peter, who is an army officer, lines out at wing back and Andrew, who is a reps planner, mans the number 10 jersey.

It is fantastic to play on a team with your siblings, but Leo also wants a win next Wednesday for the wider panel and community.

“Having two brothers on the team is great and it is the same for the Hayes (Damien and Niall ) and the Cannings (Ivan, Ollie and Joe ). It makes us a really tight unit, but most clubs in the country are much the same and Ballyhale have the Reid brothers too.

“As a club and as a panel we have worked really hard over the past few years for the success we have had. And we have had lows too, so we know both sides of the spectrum. At the moment the only thing we are thinking about is trying to beat Ballyhale next Wednesday.”

With three All-Ireland club medals in the bag from 2006, 2008 and 2009, is it hard to keep the focus and energy going?

“No. We want to stay at the top as long as we can. Ballyhale will be highly motivated after their defeat last year and we know they will be coming out with all guns blazing.

“ They have a lot of quality all over their team and unless we produce a really high quality performance we will be in trouble. It’s all on the day and we know from our previous days in Croke Park that you have to forget about the hype and just focus on delivering a winning performance.

“We are not listening to any talk of three-in-a-rows or anything like that. We have a hurling match to win and we are focusing exclusively on that fact.

“We have been going well in training and thankfully we have no injury worries, so that is a big plus. With Niall Hayes back available too, it gives the management team extra options which is a real positive.”

With so little between the sides in terms of quality, what will decide this fervently anticipated final?

“It may be a cliché, “ says Smith, “but the team that works hardest and wants it the most on any given day usually wins.

“Ballyhale will be well up for the game, but we want to do the business for ourselves, our families, and our club too. Over the past few years we, as a panel of players, have made the life choice to devote ourselves completely to hurling and the effort that has gone in has been huge. That does not guarantee you anything though, and we know that we don’t deserve anything just because we won the last few years.

“You have to work for your success and it will be the same in this final. We are in good shape and we can’t wait to get out on the field and do the best that we can. The talking is over and now we have to let our hurling do the talking for us.”

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