Charleville will take confidence from finally getting the Kanturk monkey off their back. There was pressure on them in the Co-Op Superstores Cork SAHC semi-final having played second fiddle to the Duhallow team in the past.
This is a second stint in charge for manager/coach Claude Gough. He says Charleville did everything that was asked of them against 14-man Kanturk.
“Semi-finals are always a peculiar environment. We were up against formidable opponents. Over the years, we have come second place to them. Our lads responded well to everything that was thrown at them.
“I have always found it very difficult to play with an extra man, especially in hurling. The momentum can go with the team down to 14, they can gel more. The focus tends to up their game. We had two or three lads who came back into the fray, our bench really stood to us. A couple of things went our way.
“A county final is the target for every management team. The trajectory of the club over the past 10 or 12 years has been very competitive and with that competitiveness they have been rewarded with some big days.
We have been able to see it through up to now. County final is a big day. It is a matter of turning up and getting the job done.
Topping their group enabled them to progress straight to a semi-final.
“When the draw was made, we were pitted against teams where there is familiarity and rivalry and that is healthy. The Bandon game was first. Bandon were playing senior football and hurling. Coming into this championship nobody was match-ready.
“It was important to get momentum, the first win is vital for morale and for us as a management team in implementing what we are trying to do. We got over the line that day.
“Then we faced Mallow. They, again, have been competing at a high level in hurling and football. You are dealing with very strong, athletic lads. There was nothing in it really, and that is championship hurling. Form goes out the window, this year more than any year. This championship is about getting a result, not performances. Again some of our main players stood up.”
In their final group game, they overcame a Fermoy team depleted by injury. All through, Darragh Fitzgibbon is Charleville’s leading light.
“He is a fantastic player, a good role model for young lads. Darragh lives and breathes hurling. It is in his family. His mom was a fantastic camogie player and his dad has been hugely involved with Milford teams. Darragh goes about his business quietly.
“He has a very good demeanour and manner about him. We’ve had him on board throughout the campaign and I think a lot of coaches and managers are really enjoying having their vital cog in the team.
It does help preparation. When he is there, training does go up a factor or two. He has been massive for us.
Fr O’Neill’s stand between Charleville and a county title.
“We are under no illusion whatsoever to what they bring. They have been phenomenal over the last seven, eight, nine years. The Imokilly division has been hugely successful and they have backboned a lot of those county winning teams. A very strong work ethic throughout the field.
"We’ve had very close battles with them, there has only been a puck of a ball between us. We expect that, plus more.”