Ballyhale Shamrocks star, Colin Fennelly, has admitted that his mentality to success has changed as his side prepare for another All Ireland club semi-final, their first since 2015.
The club have appeared in eight All Ireland semi-finals, enjoying enormous success between 2007 and 2010. However, the Kilkenny side have appeared in only one semi-final since then, and Ballyhale were forced to face the same realisation as the inter-county side did; success does not last forever.
That reality has altered the attitude of Fennelly, who is determined to make the most of these occasions when they come along.
“I would have been a young guy then just taking each game as it comes, but now you are making sure to remember that this could be our last semi-final like.
“It’s just a huge opportunity for myself personally, it’s a chance to win another All-Ireland and we’re a massive distance away from it, but we’ll go up against Ballygunner, a massive test but it’s all about on the day.”
That mentality is something the elder statesmen are attempting to impart onto the newer generation. The younger players have enjoyed so much success at underage level and so Fennelly is keen to emphasise the fact that they cannot expect the same at senior grade.
“There’s been a massive transition. From when I started, just the amount of players that went through the club. We are fierce fortunate, we just had the players coming through, I don’t know how, but they won minor there two years ago and backed it up at U21s.
“We’re in a place where you don’t want to leave it behind you, and that’s something we’ll have to emphasis with the younger lads that you might never be back here again.”
Saturday’s semi-final against Ballygunner is, probably, the most eye-catching semi-final. The Waterford side had an emphatic win over last year’s finalists, Na Piarsaigh, in the Munster final and will be keen to prove that it was not a one-off performance.
Fennelly is well aware of the threat they pose, considering how long they have waited for their opportunity and knows that his side will have to work as a unit if they are to overcome the formidable outfit.
“It really is (a heavyweight clash), they are after winning seven county finals, they’ve been knocking on the door the last four years to get to an All-Ireland SF, they are there now and we are probably just waiting for a beast to unleash and that’s the stage they are at.
“They play a massive game and play very well together. I’ve seen them play over the years and played challenge matches against them, they move the ball very well and they are all very in sync with each other.
“It’s a huge part for us to mix with the young lads. For us to gel together, it would be massive against Ballygunner. We’ve done it for patches during other matches but against Ballygunner, we need to gell for the whole game.”
Colin Fennelly of Ballyhale Shamrocks was speaking ahead of the AIB GAA All-Ireland Senior Hurling Club Championship Semi-Final taking place at Croke Park on Saturday, February 9th.
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