Throw two neighbours together — as in the case of Killeagh and Youghal’s SHC clash in Ballynoe tomorrow night (7pm) — and the stakes get that bit higher. It is their first senior championship meeting, with Killeagh having triumphed by 1-18 to 0-13 when they met in the RedFM SHL in April of last year.
Given the interest that that clash drew, Killeagh chairman Kieran Scully is expecting a charged atmosphere.
“I’d say it was definitely the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen at a league game,” he said. If that was anything to go by, you’d be expecting a huge attendance on Saturday night.”
Killeagh have been senior continuously since claiming the 2001 county intermediate title. En route to that championship, Youghal were seen off, as a revenge of sorts was gained for the three-game epic in 1997.
“It was the first time the clubs played at intermediate,” Scully said. “The third match went to extra-time and Youghal just shaded it. It gripped the county at the time. It was a huge rivalry but a healthy one, which is what the GAA is all about.
“Youghal had won the intermediate in 1988 and ’93 and gone up senior each time, they were senior in the 60s and 70s as well. We were always junior, but we got to three East Cork finals, we lost in 1993 and ’94 and then we won in ’95.
“We had had a lot of success at underage in the 1980s and a lot of good players emerged, the likes of Damien Irwin, Mark Landers, Ger Scully, Brendan Walsh, Joe Deane, Thomas O’Regan, Mattie Treacy and James Walsh, Lord rest him.
“Youghal winning in 1993 was something that was used as a motivation. I suppose, you’d be looking on with a bit of envy at them and Midleton. As a small club, you’d be thinking that you’d love to be up senior.”
That day eventually arrived in 2001 and the unbroken run at the top grade is a source of pride to Killeagh. A win tomorrow has the dual benefit of putting them into the last 16 and ensuring that there is no dalliance with the drop.
“When I was young, I dreamed of getting to senior and now it’s to win a county title and an All-Ireland title. It’s probably unrealistic, but you can still dream,” Scully says.
“Ourselves and Youghal are where we are now because we’ve both lost in the first round, but the main objective here is to get back on track and make it into the fourth round and avoid having to worry about relegation.
“I don’t think anyone in Killeagh wants Youghal to be relegated, but what they do want is a win for us to get into the fourth round. That’s what it all comes down to.”