Victory dedicated to banned Callinan

KILMURRY-IBRICKANE boss Michéal McDermott dedicated yesterday’s All-Ireland Club SFC semi-final triumph to defender Declan Callinan, who missed the game through a controversial suspension.

Callinan was slapped with a ban arising out of an incident in the All-Ireland quarter-final victory over Tír Chonaill Gaels, but McDermott praised his contribution to their success.

“All week in training, Declan played a huge role. On Friday night he drove all the way down from Belfast to Clare, just to be part of it. He’s the life and soul of the club, and represents what it is all about.

“This win today is a credit to Declan Callinan and we wanted to give him another day out in Croke Park.”

Kilmurry-Ibrickane’s powerful first-half display lay the foundations for victory and McDermott revealed they had planned beforehand to start in a manner similar to Kerry in last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final against Dublin.

“We watched the DVD last night of Kerry versus Dublin in last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final. We saw what Kerry did in the first 20 minutes and we said we were going to do that because we were the fresher team.

“Nobody realises the impact the Tír Chonaill Gaels match had on us. Dublin had a lay-off for six weeks that day and it was the same with Portlaoise today, they had a long lay-off since December 6.

“There’s a hunger in these lads to keep winning and winning. There’s tremendous honesty amongst the players and they have such belief in themselves. There was no fear coming into today and I never saw a team as ready to give a performance. I’m delighted for the forwards that they racked up such a big score.”

McDermott wasn’t about to downplay the significance of the achievement for the west Clare men but stressed the club’s biggest day awaits in Croke Park.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to get there and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to win an All-Ireland final. As a player and as a management, we can’t let that opportunity go past. I know this victory will be very much enjoyed tonight. But after that for the next three weeks, we’ll be fully focused on March 17. It’s no use going up for the occasion and to enjoy the day as far as I’m concerned. It’s all about winning and that’s what we’ll look to do.”

Portlaoise manager John Mulligan insisted that regardless of the controversial sending-offs, Kilmurry-Ibrickane were the superior side on the day and rubbished notions that his side were complacent.

“The refereeing is one issue, the football is another. This is Kilmurry’s day and there was no complacency amongst our lads. We had nothing to do with all this rubbish about the St Patrick’s Day parade. They probably used it down in Clare but the first we heard about it was when our local paper came out. We were fierce upset about it and we knew it would be used. There a great bunch of chaps and the last thing we wanted was to insult them. Today we were beaten fair and square by the better team. If you can’t take your defeat then you shouldn’t be involved. I hope they win it now.”

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