While they have consolidated at intermediate level, the quarter-finals had proven a glass ceiling until this year, where wins against Ballygarvan, Ballinhassig, Éire Óg and Glen Rovers have seen them into tonight’s final against Fr O’Neills in Páirc Uí Rinn (7.30pm).
As he has been for some time, Peter O’Brien is the North Cork side’s key attacker – he has posted tallies of 0-9, 1-7, 0-11 and 1-10 respectively in the four games. He acknowledges that adapting to a higher grade isn’t always easy but also feels that they have under-achieved so far.
“The first year coming up, we had a very disappointing loss to St Catherine’s and the last two years we probably felt we under-performed.
“We lost to Grenagh after a replay in 2014 and Dripsey beat us last year, we were disappointed with how we performed, we probably felt that we were a bit better than that though I don’t know if we thought we could win a county.
“We were helped by the draw this year, we played a couple of second teams and we’ve almost found ourselves in the final unknown to ourselves.” The final will be Kildorrery’s third game in just under a month, having opened their campaign in late May and playing Round 2A at the start of July. Receiving a bye to the quarter-finals can be a double-edged sword, O’Brien admits.
“You’d take the bye as it gets you further, obviously,” he says, “but it has a negative effect then.
“We were meant to play Éire Óg in the quarter-finals and that game was switched a lot, I think there were four different dates for it. When we did eventually play it, we were out again six days later against the Glen.
“Fair enough, we’ve had three weeks of a break to the final. That’s the way the games come this time of year, sure Fr O’Neills are out three weeks in a row.
“Momentum can go with you, but there’s a risk too of getting tired and picking up injuries, you’ve less chance to recover. It’s a trade-off, really, you’re just hoping for the best, that fellas can come through.” Kildorrery have a sizeable band of survivors from the junior win, as they seek to deal with the manpower challenges common to many rural clubs.
“There are a couple of new young players since 2012,” O’Brien says, “and a few older guys who just weren’t around then, for whatever reason. We’ll have five U21s playing, there are a couple of younger players coming through, though we don’t get huge numbers.
“If you got one every year you’d be happy, we play 12-a-side at minor, we’re probably lucky to keep a team going at that age so if you anyone at all it’s a bonus.” The experience of playing in finals – they lost the JAFC decider to Canovee in 2007 but were promoted as part of restructuring and then reached IFC finals in 2008 and ’10 – will stand to them, but O’Brien knows that the task is sizeable.
“The place is destroyed in blue and white now the last couple of weeks but you just try to keep away from that,” he says.
“We know that we have a huge job on Saturday, we’re massive underdogs. We were only talking about it at training, Declan Dalton seems to be scoring frees for fun, Billy Dunne is another good young player and they have a couple of older fellas then, Ger O’Leary and Podge Butler and a few more.
“It’s a huge task and we must be very disciplined, any free within 80 or 90 yards is nearly a score for them. Concentrating on our own game is the biggest concern.”