"You don't want to change a winning formula" - Maher and McCormack the key for Borris-Ileigh
"No matter where you go, shop, butcher, post office, all anybody is talking about is the big game on Sunday, there's huge excitement around the village..."
Borris0-Ileigh is on a high. Ever since they won their first Tipperary championship since 1986 just a couple of months ago, the team and parish have been on a roll.
They've been here before.
In '86, they followed county glory with Munster and All-Ireland wins too and more than 30 years on, they're aiming to do the clean sweep again. No other Tipperary club has done it in the mean-time. There's fair tradition in Borris. They have the taste for it.
What stands between the north Tipperary club and the promised land now is Ballyhale Shamrocks - one of the most impressive and successful club hurling teams ever to grace this competition - but Johnny Kelly's team are focusing on themselves, and they're eager to do themselves justice in Croke Park.
James JD Devaney is only doing his Leaving Cert.
He's only 18 years of age.
Playing against one of his teachers, he scored 1-4 from play in the county final today to take @Borris_GAA to their first Tipperary senior title since 1986.#StuffOfDreams#WonderKid pic.twitter.com/DJCTgsU6G0
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) November 3, 2019
There's a real feel-good factor surrounding the Borris-Ileigh underdog story this season (they were 9/1 outsiders to win the Tipp championship at the start of the season) and when you couple that with the tradition they have in this competition, they'll go into Sunday's final with plenty of confidence.
"You can take great pride in the fact that your neighbours and your cousins have won these medals, so it's possible for us to do the same thing," said Dan McCormack on Thursday's GAA Hour Show.
"It is a different era though, so we'd probably take more belief from the fact that we did it against St Thomas' and against Ballygunner..."
They shouldn't be fazed by the outsiders tag on Sunday. While the injection of youthful exuberance from James Devaney and Kevin Maher has really drove Borris on this year, the relationship and the understanding between county men Brendan Maher and Dan McCormack has also been key.
McCormack wears nine and Maher has six on his back, but it's the former Tipperary captain who drives forward while McCormack sits back into a sweeping role. Maher is able to ghost forward, often without being tracked, and that's paid huge dividends for the club this year.
"You don't want to leave a big gap in the middle and expose your full back line to nice balls in, so I just tend to sit back and mop up in behind if Brendan drifts up the field, he likes to drive forward and attack - he takes the frees too...teams will try to drag him around the place, so it gives him freedom to move up and attack the game a little bit more as well...You don't want to change a winning formula..."
It's all clicked this year, and they don't want this fairytale to end.
"It's probably more than a game of hurling, there's been some great celebrations in Borrisoleigh, it's hard to put it into words how much it all means, it means so much more than an actual match or a game of hurling..."
"We were struggling the last number of years to get over the quarter final stage in Tipperary, there seems to be that little bit of belief, that something has clicked this year..."
You can watch the most recent episode of The GAA Hour Show here.