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Nenagh Eire Og will have to up their workrate says Nenagh manager Brian Whelehan

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Nenagh Eire Og will have to up their workrate says Nenagh manager Brian Whelehan thumbnail

Nenagh manager Brian Whelehan says that Nenagh Eire Og will have to up their game and workrate to match the strength of Borris-Ileigh when the sides meet in the Hibernian Inn North Tipperary Senior Hurling final played at MacDonagh Park next Saturday evening.

The two time All-Ireland medal winner with Offaly in 1994 and 1998 says the threat of Conor Kenny, Dan McCormack and Jerry Kelly will test the Nenagh backline not to mention their go to man Brendan Maher plus that of Paddy Stapleton who is one the tightest marking defenders in Tipperary said Brian.

"Obviously the Borris attack is something they have worked very very hard on. They have some very good ball winners in the forward line with the two Kennys (Conor and Niall). Conor Kenny scored 1-5 against Templederry which is some return. They also have Dan McCormack and Jerry Kelly who are well established.

Dan McCormack had a very good year for Tipp this year and when you look at it they have one of the strongest forward line up there with Loughmore Castleiney and just behind Thurles Sarsfields.

"They have real ball winners and that is a huge match advantage. Everybody knows what Brendan Maher brings to the team. His free taking is excellent and when the pressure comes on he is at the right place at the right time as we saw in the game against Templederry. It is going to be a big test for us. Borris love playing in Nenagh. They beat us in the league semi final. From our point of view I hope we learned from that game because if we don't match their workrate on Saturday evening it is going to be a tough hour," said Brian who was named Texaco hurler of the year on two occasions.

Brian Whelehan first played competitive hurling whilst at school in St. Brendan's Community School. He arrived on the inter-county scene at the age of fifteen when he first linked up with the Offaly minor team, before later lining out with the under-21 side. He won two All-Ireland minor medals in 1986 and '87. He made his senior debut during the 1989 championship and went on to play a key role for Offaly during a hugely successful era for the team, and won two All-Ireland medals in 1994 against Limerick and 1998 against Kilkenny when he moved from wing back to corner forward scoring 1-6 despite the fact he was not at his best due to flu. He also won four Leinster medals and one National Hurling League medal in 1991. He was an All-Ireland runner-up on two occasions.

As a member of the Leinster inter-provincial team for on a number of occasions, Whelehan won two Interprovincial Cup medals. At club level he won a record four All-Ireland medals with Birr, while he also claimed seven Leinster medals and twelve championship medals with Birr. Whelehan made 55 championship appearances, second only to Joe Dooley in Offaly's all-time rankings before he retired in 2006.

Brian's father Pajo coached Nenagh to County honours in 1995 which incidentally had Billy Flannery, a current selector with the teams and was one of the selectors back then.

Brian followed in his fathers footsteps and took over the Nenagh team after the previous manager Donagh O'Donnell stepped down following the sides defeat to Kilruane MacDonaghs in the first round of the county Championship. Michael Cleary took over as care taker manager for the North championship win over Ballina before Whelehan was in situ for the very easy win over Carrick Swans in the County championship race.

"It was nice to hit the ground running. It was also the game in which the players needed to make some form of a statement on where they wanted their year to go. Once we got a run on Carrick the game sort of petered away in the second half," said Whelehan.

The quarter final win over Roscrea in the North championship showed a step in the right direction and possibly the final result didn't do justice to Nenagh who had to withstand a second half fight back by Roscrea who scored two soft goals in the opening half.

"We looked comfortable at times but to be fair and they worked very hard making sure they played the game on their terms. We conceded two goals of our own making and it made it difficult for us. Thankfully we pulled through and that was an important result for us," claimed the former Offaly star who won four All Stars and was elected on the hurling team of the millennium.

In the North semi final Nenagh seemed to be coming at the right time in terms of fitness and they really upped their performance against Kiladangan.

"I would hope they are for what was a very important game. From our point of view the way the championship developed this year, the long brake between the Roscrea game and the Kiladangan game because of Tipperary's progress in the all-Ireland qualifiers and the uncertainty of when club games are, it leaves things very lethargic. Teams are training, holidays are going on and other things that clubs face because of the uncertainty of championships but once the Tipp v Galway game was over it became very clear that games were going to go ahead and from our point of view on the back of a big Thurles defeat we upped our performance quiet considerably," said the former Offaly team manager.

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