‘Football is like our religion’, says Kiskeam chairman

Kiskeam’s county finalists is a team that runs itself. Not because anything comes easy to them, mind you, but because the players make up the club’s committee.

‘Football is like our religion’, says Kiskeam chairman

In a community of 600 or so people, where football is the religion, the players taking ownership of the club is only natural. And now they’ve taken one of the smallest clubs in Cork to the brink of senior football.

“It’s a very, very small club and the players make up the top-table,” says Diarmuid Fitzgerald.

He’s not one to exaggerate.

Fitzgerald is chairman and a player in his 10th year of Premier Intermediate football. His deputy in the boardroom is John Angland, who will be helping to pick the team as a selector.

PRO Billy Dennehy is a player. Treasurer Paddy H O’Connor is a player. Registrar Michael Casey will be lining out in the middle sector.

Secretary Noreen Herlihy won’t be playing but she’ll be handling the club’s Twitter updates with the PRO otherwise occupied. Plus, her husband Michael is the team’s top scorer.

“If we’re not training, we’re going to weekly meetings, so ’tis time consuming alright,” Fitzgerald says, without dwelling on the time involved.

“But we all enjoy the roles, we all get on and it brings the community closer together. Without football in the community we don’t know where we’d be, to be honest. Football is like our religion.”

Billy Dennehy, the PRO, is 15 years playing for Kiskeam. 2002 was his – and Kiskeam’s – breakthrough year, winning the County Junior A Football title. Dennehy was man-of-the-match. It’s never come that easy to him in the 14 years since, but that only makes these days even sweeter.

“It’s our love of the game and love of the club... When you enjoy it, you don’t notice the amount of time and effort that goes into it,” says Dennehy.

“My father was chairman before, so I’ve been going to meetings since I was a young fellow. It’s part and parcel of what we are.

“You’d see a good few of the other lads coming to meetings and helping out in whatever way they can. It’s the joys of being a small club. Everyone has to put the shoulder to the wheel for the good of the club and to keep things going.”

The one new voice brought in from the outside is manager Denis Reen. The 34-year-old from Kenmare took over at the start of the year, but it began with a loss to Na Piarsaigh which took the team by surprise.

Since then they’ve regrouped in impressive style, and they’re as yet unbeaten in any championship, league or challenge game since May.

“It’s just been all football in the months since that game,” according to Fitzgerald.

“Training changed. Everything changed. There was 120% effort given every night – you could see it in everyone’s faces.

“The fitness has got us through the close games. Everyone has given everything they have until that final whistle. It’s never over.

“Players do change when they put on the black jersey – it just makes the hairs stand on the back of your neck really.”

They dug deep to kick the final five points that beat Mallow, the same again to avenge the Na Piarsaigh loss and went back to the well once more to score the 1-3 in six minutes that broke Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh.

Their opponents in the Premier Intermediate final are Fermoy, whose unbeaten championship run stretches back to 2014.

They lost to Éire Óg that year, but fired four goals past them in a cold-blooded semi-final revenge last month.

It’ll be town versus village, but Kiskeam won’t lack support.

“As the old saying goes, ‘Will the last one to leave the village turn off the lights,’” chuckles Dennehy.

“We’ll be hoping that everyone will be out there to support us and wish us well. In fairness, the village is looking really well at the moment. Everyone has a flag up, car flags, signs… Everyone is enjoying it and making the most of it. We would hope that 599 people will make it up anyway and we’ll leave one at home to mind the place!”

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