The two spots for this year’s All-Ireland Senior Hurling Club Championship final are up for grabs today, as Slaughtneil meet Na Piarsaigh in Parnell Park, and Liam Mellows attempt to shock reigning champions Cuala in Semple Stadium.
Indeed, while Thurles is invaded by the ‘Cuala Ultras’ and the Galway champions, the locals will watch on, green with envy.
Thurles Sarsfields fell to Ballygunner earlier in the campaign, and have only claimed one provincial title despite winning eight county championships since 2005. That sole Munster victory came in 2012, when they went on to lose the All-Ireland semi-final a few months later.
Despite being well regarded as one of the most talented club sides around, the ‘Sars’ never managed to reach their promised land.
When asked if that was a regret, Lar Corbett made no excuses.
“It is [a regret] but we have to be very, very straight about this. The years that we got beaten, we weren’t good enough on the day.
“Sometimes we put extra pressure on ourselves, because the question you are after asking me is a question that’s out there. Each player is being asked that back in Thurles, week in, week out.
“But when we played Ballyea last year, they were on a rollercoaster. They had one match, one match, another one. Before they knew it, they were nearly all the way there. So sometimes when you get, I won’t say a bit of luck, but when you win a county final and it’s your first one, you’re on a high, you’re on a buzz.
“For the last couple of years, the pressure was on us. We were saying we have to perform, because we’re expected to perform. That kind of adds a small little bit [of pressure] maybe on younger players that we have to play above ourselves.”
The 2010 Hurler of the Year reiterated just how difficult a tournament it is to win.
“The luck value in that is huge. There is no room for error, there is no room for mistake. After you win a county quarter-final, you have to win every match.
“You need an awful lot of luck. Sometimes, I don’t think the best teams of the year win those competitions, because you’ll get beaten, it’s gone, it’s over.”
Given that Cuala and Na Piarsaigh are competing today after sharing the previous two All-Ireland titles between them, the cream seems to be rising to the top this year.
Lar Corbett was speaking at the launch of the new season of Laochra Gael on TG4, which begins on February 28:
Programme 1: Lar Corbett, 9.30pm, Wednesday, February 28.
Programme 2: Graham Geraghty, 9.30pm, Wednesday, March 7.
Programme 3: Ashling Thompson, 9.30pm, Wednesday, March 14.
Programme 4: Henry Shefflin, 9.30pm, Wednesday, March 21.
Programme 5: Mickey Harte, 9.30pm, Wednesday, March 28.