Following Kilshannig’s unprecedented triumph across three grades — Rebel Óg ‘A’ Minor champions, U16 Premier 2 county champions and U16 A hurling league and championship winners — the club’s next objective is to match powerhouse sides at all levels, says minor football coach Anthony Brennan.
Speaking at the Rebel Óg Awards at Clayton Hotel Silver Springs, where the three teams were honoured, Brennan was beaming from his side’s 0-17 to 0-13 win over O’Donovan Rossa in the county final, a club he has longstanding respect for.
“It’s the first one (minor title) we won. We have a huge respect for all West Cork sides. O’Donovan Rossa beat Bantry Blues and then Macroom in the semi-finals, they’re big scalps. In a county final, you have to win nine or ten of the individual battles. We had 15 lads that excelled at different stages. If, in five years time, we can be playing and beating those teams at all levels then we will definitely be going in the right direction.”
It speaks volumes of the club’s commitment that after many failings down through the years, 2016 finally produced their “greatest achievement”. Brennan, a proud clubman, was delighted to see Kilshannig pick up silverware across both codes and acknowledged all the work done in the past.
“The last 20 years..I wouldn’t say we’ve been in the doldrums, but we were finding it hard to get back to the glory days we had in the 1970s. To win the Premier 2 U16 hurling, that’s the first success we’ve had since the establishment of Rebel Óg. The players have always been committed but the work was done by the people that set the foundations down through the years. They kept flying the flag even when we weren’t having any success.2
And even 2016 wasn’t without its disappointments for Kilshannig’s minors, as they lost the North Cork final 2-8 to 1-9 to a superior Fermoy side. Brennan said this was a crucial juncture in their season as the two sides would later renew their hostilities in the county semi-final.
“The night we played the North Cork final (was the turning point). We came in knowing there would be very little in it but we just didn’t click on the night.”
Brennan reflected: “We never underestimated Fermoy but we said afterwards in the dressing room ‘there’s more in us’. The following week we played Fermoy in the North Cork A semi-final and we rejigged things a small bit and ended up winning.”
Their success across the board couldn’t have been without the unity in the club. At no point, Brennan revealed, was their any conflict of interest between the codes, and indeed the age grades.
“There were eight lads involved in the U16s that were also involved in the minor in both codes. You need that united approach, you can’t be having a tug-of-war within the club”
He added: “We’re really hoping something will come of this bunch. We look forward to next year, bringing the momentum with us up to U21 level. That’s the next area to keep the lads interested in.”
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