Cunningham expects fierce Ballina battle

Anthony Cuningham, the former Galway All-Ireland hurling star, will guide St. Brigids into their third sucesssive Connacht club final next Sunday. He has watched his team improve in almost every major championship game they have played in that time, culminating with an excellent display against Killererin in the semi-final two weeks ago. However he is very careful not to overdo the praise following that performance.   ‘Yes, we played well against Killererin but that’s over now. What happened in Tuam will not even get us one point in the final so we have had to go back to the basics and prepare for the final as if it was our first game’ he said.    Anthony says that the final will be a completely different game from the semi-final. ‘Anyone who thinks that the final will go similar to the semi-final is living in  cloud cuckoo land and we are expecting a real dogfight down there I can tell you’ he says.    Anthony says that the injury situation is not a major worry as Brigids prepare for the final. ‘We came out of the semi-final very well. Shane (Curran) is receiving treatment for his leg injury but we are very hopeful that he will be fit. Ian Kilbride is progressing well but this game might be a bit too soon for him but everyone else is fine’ he said.    The manager agrees that St. Brigids are stronger this year because of the fact that there are more players putting pressure on the lads that are on the first fifteen.       ‘There is more pressure on the lads on the team to play well now. Senan (Kilbride) is a big help to us this year. He wasn’t fit last year.    ‘Ian Kilbride is also in contention for a place. Jimmy Nail, Dixie and others are all now pushing for permanent places and lads like Peter Domican and Niall Grehan are a year older and that is a huge boost too. Everyone is fighting for their places and that’s why we are stronger this year’ he says.    Anthony is expecting a fierce battle from Ballina. ‘Look, it’s as simple as this – they are very, very experienced. They are very physical too. They seem to have been involved in a good few low-scoring games this year and we know that their pitch down there suits them very well and we will just have to come to terms with that if we want to win’ he continued.   Anthony concluded by stating that there is a massive hunger in the St. Brigids club to win the title again.    ‘This is what we work so hard for. This is why we start training in January and February and we certainly do not do all that hard work not to have a hunger for success.    ‘I would say that the hunger is even greater than last year so we have no worries on that score and hopefully we can do it on Sunday’ he concluded.