As Kilworth eye bright future, there’s no fretting over the past

“That’s history. The past is the past,” replies Kilworth manager Shane Tobin when it is put to him that his team has had no joy when facing Fr O’Neill’s in recent years.

As Kilworth eye bright future, there’s no fretting over the past

“That’s history. The past is the past,” replies Kilworth manager Shane Tobin when it is put to him that his team has had no joy when facing Fr O’Neill’s in recent years.

This evening at Páirc Uí Rinn, the two sides meet for a third consecutive year in the Cork Premier Intermediate Hurling Championship. The difference on this occasion is that county silverware is at stake.

What is not on the table, though, is promotion, as both clubs are already guaranteed their place in next year’s new-look 12-team Senior A competition, along with fellow Premier Intermediate sides Cloyne, Fermoy, and Mallow.

Of course, both Fr O’Neill’s and Kilworth want to make the step up as county champions, while, for the latter, there is the added motivation of exacting revenge on the team who dumped them out of the championship in 2017 and 2018.

The first of those defeats was more of a hammering than anything else, Fr O’Neill’s limiting their opponents to just three second-half points and three points from play, in total, as they ran out 3-14 to 0-8 winners to advance to the last eight. Last year’s quarter-final was a much closer affair, the final scoreline reading 2-17 to 1-16.

Kilworth haven’t dwelt on either of those defeats on the run-in to this evening’s decider, but Tobin knows there are lessons to be taken from those meetings which must be applied here, chief among them being more economical in front of the posts.

“We missed chances early on against them last year. That was compounded, then, when we conceded a sucker blow of a goal coming up to half-time,” the manager reflected.

“We have to cut down on our concession of frees, as well. We know that if we concede frees, Declan Dalton will put them over from virtually anywhere on the field. We are taking Saturday’s game on its own merits, though. The past is the past. We are fully focused on what is in front of us."

Tobin added: “We do have experience of county finals. Some of the lads on the panel — Kieran Walsh, Maurice McNamara, Brian Tobin, Mark O’Connor, and Tom Twomey — were involved when the club won the junior and lower intermediate in 2006 and 2012.

There is good experience there so they won’t let [the occasion or past defeats] affect them on Saturday night. Jamie Sheehan and Eoin Carey are younger lads who have come into the set-up in recent years, so there is a nice blend.

No team has come within three points of Kilworth during this year’s championship, their average winning margin standing at an impressive six points. The totals they’ve been putting up have been no less eye-catching. They hit 0-20 first day out against Valley Rovers, Carrigaline were taken for 1-25, while they put 2-16 past Inniscarra in the penultimate round.

“The players have that extra bit of bite this year, that extra bit of hunger, fight, and will to win. They are fully committed to the cause, they’d die for the jersey. They have really been driving it on this year,” said Tobin.

“We have been putting up good scores, but that comes from the work-rate and the buy-in from all the players. And no question but there has been a great buy-in since we started training back in January. We have been very consistent all year, steadily on the rise. Three games played, one to go.”

Beyond this evening and this 2019 season, the club will look to establish themselves at senior level in the coming years. Certainly, the supply line is in good health.

“The club is doing very well as a whole,” Tobin continued. “The minor amalgamation with Araglen — Kilara Óg — are in a minor B county final next week. The club had good success at U12 and U14 this year. We are planning a big development in the next couple of years, so all is positive.

"Numbers are good. The last couple of years we seem to be coming again. The juvenile section, as well as the camogie club, have really rowed in behind the lads. There is great excitement.

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