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No pain, no gain for Loughgiel manager PJ O'Mullan

by John Campbell

MORE often than not players are routinely expected to go through the pain barrier in a quest for success.

Rarely, though, have managers to grit their teeth and suffer physical hurt as they spearhead a drive to glory.

But Loughgiel hurling boss PJ O'Mullan is an exception to this rule.

It may be the close season but far from putting his feet up, the irrepressible PJ plans to take his entire squad to the Leinster club hurling final between Oulart-the-Ballagh (Wexford) and Mount Leinster Rangers (Carlow) in Kilkenny on Sunday.

And this despite suffering from gout in one ankle and facing into what he describes as "a total reconstruction job" on his other ankle.

Undeterred, though, he is pressing ahead with his plans for his team's meeting with the winners of Sunday's Leinster showdown in the All-Ireland club hurling semi-final in February.

"I'm in a bit of pain with my ankles surely but I have put surgery on hold until after our involvement in the All-Ireland series is completed," says O'Mullan.

"Hopefully that will not be until we find ourselves in the winners' dressing-room in Croke Park on St Patrick's Day."

Two years ago Loughgiel were crowned All-Ireland champions and came close to retaining the title this year only to find Galway side St Thomas's rather too sharp in the finishing stakes.

But O'Mullan believes his side have learned valuable lessons from that defeat.

"We are a bit wiser going into this All-Ireland series. We will be preparing very thoroughly.

"While this will essentially be a bonding weekend, you can be sure that we will scrutinise the Leinster final very closely and hopefully we will come back armed with an important sheaf of homework," states the Loughgiel boss.

"We will be getting back to full training on Tuesday night. The boys will be expected to knuckle down and while we will have a few days off over Christmas we will certainly not be losing our focus."

Portumna have emerged from Connacht this year with St Thomas's dislodged from their national perch but the only contest on the Loughgiel radar right now is the Leinster final.

"There are two fine teams and we are very grateful to have the opportunity to run the rule over them," points out O'Mullan.

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