St Finbarrs goalkeeper John Kerins has dismissed fears of the club suffering a hangover from their Munster SFC success in Saturday’s AIB All-Ireland semi-final against Kilcoo.
Speaking after last Sunday’s win in Semple Stadium, captain Ian Maguire admitted that the Barrs had lost focus in the 2018 Munster championship, where they lost their semi-final by 21 points to Dr Crokes, having put so much into winning a first Cork PSFC crown in 33 years.
The victory against Austin Stacks ended a 35-year wait for provincial glory but Kerins is confident they won’t suffer a similar readjustment problem in Portlaoise. “I think the focus is well there now, to be honest. Covid didn't help the celebrations and stuff like that so we knuckled down straight away.
"The focus? I suppose after winning Munster, we were back training on Tuesday. I don't think there's going to be any hangover this time. We're just going to give as good an account of ourselves as we can and hopefully it will go well.”
Their rivals Nemo Rangers have traditionally brought an air of arrogance into these types of games and Kerins says they will look to bring as much confidence to MW Hire O’Moore Park.
“We'd always have belief in ourselves. We don't fear the opposition as much .... we just completely focus on ourselves and there's no real question of the opposition at times.”
Kerins admits he hasn’t done much research on Kilcoo ahead of the game. He didn’t take in their emphatic Ulster final win over Derrygonnelly Harps, his last experience of seeing them being their 2020 All-Ireland final loss to Corofin.
“We know they’re ultra-defensive, they break at pace and you can see why they’re dominant at times. It’s rare enough that you can get a team that can go forward but yet come back at the pace that they’re travelling. They’ve been dominant in Ulster the last couple of years. The bookies probably have it right but hopefully we’ll try and turn the tables on Saturday.
“I think a few of the lads might have (watched the Ulster final) but I don’t know how hard it is to decipher that. Given the scoreline you can see how dominant Kilcoo were for the whole 60 minutes, to concede three points.
“We know we’re going to be under massive pressure to put them on the backfoot. Even from the stuff that the lads were saying, they break in three or four and it’s not that they’re supporting, they’re getting up ahead of the man so it’s sprinting the whole time. To be able to have that fitness for the 60 minutes is going to be a proper test for us on Saturday.”
From third-choice goalkeeper for the Barrs five years ago to No1 pick the following year when they ended their Cork PSFC famine to returning this season to help land more success after Garda training and injury kept him sidelined, Kerins’ story is an intriguing one. His save from Seán Quilter in Thurles was the latest example of his growing stature in the role.
Given the achievements of his late father John between the sticks for club and county, it would seem he was destined to find himself there but he had fancied himself as a forward in his early teens. “When I was 12 or 13 I playing outfield the most, probably corner-forward. I didn't really get much of a game and they were short of goalkeepers so I said I'd throw my hat at it. Leading up to 2018, I was playing junior football at the start of the year and then ended up playing senior in the final. Literally, it was just a matter of circumstance. I think Deccie Murphy got injured in the quarter-final and James McDonnell had to step away with work and family. There was confidence instilled in me through the management team at that time, they kind of said to me that I was capable of playing at this level.”