Four years ago, Clonmel Commercials recorded a dramatic win over Nemo Rangers in the Munster club football final but situations have changed for both sides since that meeting.
The Tipperary club have failed to reach the provincial decider since while Nemo claimed the title in 2017 and progressed to the All-Ireland final that season.
The gulf between the sides was highlighted to Clonmel star Seamus Kennedy when they met in a challenge game over the August bank holiday weekend this year.
It had been a busy weekend for Cork at inter-county level with players involved in crucial games with both senior and U20 sides. Given their commitments, Commercials didn’t expect that Nemo would pay much heed to their challenge game.
But it proved to be a massive wake-up call for Kennedy and co.
“I left that day and I was going, ‘Jesus, what the hell is going on here?’ To be honest, we felt that we were going well at the time and Nemo gave us a bit of a licking that day.
“The game aside, something that really opened our eyes that day was Mark Cronin who won an All-Ireland Final on the Saturday and Paul Kerrigan who had played with Cork the day before were both there on the Monday bank holiday.
“Tipp had got knocked out that weekend as well and a few lads were blowing off a bit of steam which they’re entitled to. But it kind of made us sit back a bit and go, ‘Hold on a second here. This is why Nemo are so successful.
“These guys are well entitled to a weekend off, but, now, they’re in Clonmel on the bank holiday Monday playing Clonmel Commercials in a challenge match.’
“The result wasn’t pretty, but, yeah, it probably made us wake up, sit up, and take notice that this is the level that these guys are operating at that we need to get to.”
At 26, Kennedy has already experienced numerous successes in his GAA career. He was part of that memorable Tipperary minor football panel who beat a star-studded Dublin team in the All-Ireland final. In the other code, Kennedy has two senior All-Ireland medals in his back pocket.
Yet nothing will compare to that Munster medal he won with Clonmel Commercials in 2015. And having experienced it once, he is hungry for more.
“That’s number one. That’s not to devalue anything I’ve been lucky enough to win with Tipp or anything like that, but the couple of days in Clonmel after that… Clonmel had knocked on the door a couple of times in the ’90s in Munster Club Finals and not gotten over the line.
“When we did, to see the reaction of all of those players that played, the likes of John McNamara in the club, it just blew us away, to be honest.
“Obviously it’s the cliche, winning with the people you grew up, but that’s what it is. The people you grew up with, your family and your friends.
“My Grandfather played with Commercials in the ’60s on the three-in-a-row team and there are a few other lads like that. There’s just that tradition and that thing of being involved with the club that’s just that bit extra-special.”
Kennedy is aware that you can’t read too much into a challenge game, however, he is adamant that Commercials must give Nemo Rangers the respect they deserve.
The 2015 final will count for little when the ball is thrown in on Sunday in Fraher Field.
“We’ve probably six or seven lads facing into their first Munster Club Final. Six I think starting from the last day if thats how it stays. It’s new to them but there are a good few of us who have had the experience which is good, the younger lads can draw on that.
“We’re really looking forward to it. We probably would have always looked at the likes of Nemo and Dr Crokes and felt that with the group of players that we had that we could be operating at that level.
“I suppose going on the Miltown-Malbay game, that was a game we made very hard work of. It was a really tough game and I suppose we have a good few areas we feel we can improve on from that and things we want to improve on.
“We’ve mainly looked at ourselves. Obviously we’re going to give Nemo the respect that they deserve. They have some unbelievable players, especially in the forward-line. We probably will have a look at them now when we get to training on Thursday and again coming into the weekend.
“I suppose we’re mainly trying to iron out the few bits we feel we can improve on. We’re under no illusion about the challenge that’s facing us but we do feel we’ve a very good group of players at the minute that have put in a huge effort all year. Especially the club players, they’ve really driven it this year.”
Clonmel Commercials footballer and Tipperary hurler Seamus Kennedy was speaking ahead of the AIB Munster Senior Football Club Championship Final where they face Nemo Rangers of Cork on Sunday, December 1st at Fraher Field, Dungarvan.
AIB is in its 29th year sponsoring the GAA Club Championship and is delighted to continue to support the Junior, Intermediate and Senior Championships across football, hurling and camogie.