Antrim and Ulster club hurling champions Loughgiel Shamrocks have the proverbial sporting mountain to climb when they face Kilkenny and Leinster title-holders O’Loughlin Gaels in Saturday’s All-Ireland Club semi-final at Parnell Park, Dublin.
They may be rated no-hopers but this has not diluted the spirit nor the commitment which P J O’Mullan’s team will bring to the table.
Indeed, the Ulster representatives clearly believe that, if they get off to a good start in the match, then their cohesion and finishing skills could conceivably help them to pull off a shock result.
“Maybe some people will think we are being over-optimistic but you have to have belief,” says manager O’Mullan.
“This is our club’s biggest game since they clinched the All-Ireland Club title in 1983.
“We think we have the right mix of physical power and subtle skills to trouble O’Loughlin Gaels who are undoubtedly one of the best club teams in the country with a powerful tradition.”
And he believes that Loughgiel’s mental strength could prove the key to their performance on Sunday.
“This club lost six county finals between 2003 and 2008 before finally coming good in 2010,” adds O’Mullan.
“We believed all along the lines that the players had the skills but it was a question of getting them mentally attuned.
“We like to think that the players now have confidence in their own ability and faith in those around them.”