Leinster JHC final - the Kilkenny view

Friday, 30th November, 2018 4:00pm

Leinster JHC final - the Kilkenny view

Jack Brett doesn't look too pleased that Daniel Gleeson has the Leinster JHC Cup?

When Na Fianna step on out onto Nowlan Park on Saturday they will face a team with one of the richest traditions in Kilkennny hurling - and one with a remarkable record most clubs would want to avoid according to JIMMY GEOGHEGAN.

Dunnamaggin had to endure almost a century of pain and disappointments before they finally reached the Promised Land in 1994 when they landed a Kilkenny JHC title. 

Since then they have enjoyed other good days in the sun with the pinnacle of their success chalked up in 1997 when they claimed the Kilkenny senior title, defeating Young Irelands from Gowran 2-10 to 2-7 in the final. 

They had in their ranks that year a certain Noel Hickey who, according to Dunnamaggin’s current club chairman Dick O’Shea, was only 16 when they defeated Young Irelands but by then he was already showing the kind of talent and attitude that would make him something of a legendary figure in Kilkenny hurling. 

Hickey went on to have a wonderful career winning nine All-Ireland medals under the great team managed by Brian Cody (some would argue the greatest hurling team of all time). Hickey’s last All-Ireland success was achieved in 2012. The Dunnamaggin legend retired from inter-county hurling the following year. 

Undoubtedly the marquee player of the current Dunnamaggin team Hickey has won three All-Stars and holds the record of having played more championship games at full-back for the Cats than any other player in that position. 

Now in his late 30s he is expected to line out against Na Fianna and the Meath side will have to come up with a strategy to curtail his influence - and find a way to get around him. 

O’Shea says that for years Dunnamaggin, who play in green and gold, showed plenty of promise before going into games, but invariably they collapsed when it mattered most. Then they got it right. 

"People used to say around Dunnamaggin that back in the late 1950s and 1960s especially, the club had a fine team that could beat just about anybody when it came to tournament games but then they would go out for the first round of the championship and get beaten," he told the Meath Chronicle. 

Now, he says, that has changed and while they dropped down from the intermediate last year they have bounced straight back up again and will be looking to make a little piece of history of their own on Saturday by landing their first Leinster crown. 

"This is only our second time in Leinster. When we won the senior we defeated Naas in the first round but lost out in the second round so this is a chance for us to win a Leinster," said the chairman.

"There is a good buzz around the club these days, but we’ll be certainly taking nothing for granted against Na Fianna."

The Dunnamaggin manager is Eamonn Kennedy who won an All-Ireland SHC medal with Kilkenny in 2000 and an Allstar the same year. He also played football for Kilmoganny. 

Now his is planning the downfall of Na Fianna in Saturday’s final.

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