Expectant Gort head to Kenny Park to face the kingpins

This Sunday at Kenny Park (1.30pm ) the county senior hurling championship final sees Gort, the 2011 champions, take on Portumna, the 2013 champions, in what promises to be an epic battle to see which club takes home the Tom Callanan Cup for 2014.

Portumna have been outstanding Galway champions on four of the six occasions they have won the county cup since 2003, having progressed to win the All-Ireland title four times.

They have many household names such as Joe and Ollie Canning and Damien Hayes, and they have been a tough club to defeat over the past decade.

Part of the Gort management team and club secretary, Mike Finn, knows the difficulty ahead but is hopeful the Gort squad will have the energy and skill levels to do what is required on Sunday.

Finn, who teaches maths and applied maths at St Caimin's in Shannon, is impressed with Gort’s progress over the past few months under the combined guidance of Gerry Spelman, Mattie Murphy and himself.

"We try to be as professional as we can be within the budget and other constraints every club is under. However, we have made massive strides over the past year and we are hopeful we can finish the year on a real high. Gerry Spelman is an excellent coach, and all his sessions are skills orientated. The players really enjoy them and our attendance and morale at training has been top class all year.

"It is no coincidence that both clubs in the county final have two top quality coaches working with their squads and that has been seen in the hurling that both sides have produced during the year."

Finn, who was a sub on the Gort side that won the 2011 county final, has been surprised by the time commitment required to be involved in a senior club management team.

"It is really time consuming when you are trying to do things as well and as professionally as possible. I underestimated the time involved to be honest. Team management takes a lot of time out of your week and I don't think people realise the time and effort involved.”

However, he says: “It is hugely enjoyable and satisfying when you see progress being made and a county title would be a massive way to end the year."

And he believes the squad is up to the job.

"There is a lot more to Portumna than just their big name players. They have a load of very good club hurlers all over the pitch and if any team focuses too much on the likes of Joe Canning, then they will leave holes for others like Ronan O'Meara or Eoin Lynch. However, we believe if our guys show up and play as we know they can, they are capable of really testing Portumna and getting a win."

For that to happen Gort will need big displays from Richie Cummins, who has been in great form all season, Ger O' Donoghue, Paul Killilea and free taker Gerry Quinn up front.

Defensively they will look to Greg Lally, Aidan Harte, Sylvie Óg and Tadhg Linnane to shore things up, and they will need Seán Forde working like a trojan around the middle.

"There is nothing easy about trying to win a county final especially against a quality side like Portumna,” says Finn. “There will be a great Christmas from a hurling perspective in one of the clubs over the next few weeks. We just hope it will be in Gort. We are 11/5 in the bookies, which I think is overly priced. It is up to our lads to do the business on Sunday and I think they will."


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