Imokilly manager Fergal Condon says the east Cork divisional side have built up momentum through match practice — tonight’s Cork SHC replay against Sarsfields (Páirc Uí Rinn, 7pm) has them approaching two dozen outings together as a team.
“We’ve had a lot of games this year even outside the championship, the game tonight is our 22nd match, which is a lot,” Condon says.
“The lads are made for it, mad to play, and that’s a huge part of it. The fact that the top players in the division are interested and enthusiastic makes a big difference.
“It takes a lot of organising behind the scenes in terms of management and the back room, but the way people have bought into it has been great. I don’t think there’s anyone that we don’t have in terms of a player who might benefit us.
“And obviously having the inter-county players enhances everything, if they’re interested and committed it brings the rest along with them — and they are.”
Condon says the sprinkling of inter-county experience helps: “Seamus Harnedy is the captain, he’s high profile and is well known, but he comes in as an ordinary lad here. He wants to win and has expressed that, certainly, in the dressing-room — he’s very good with people.
“Brian Lawton and Paudie O’Sullivan have a lot of experience, the two Cork minors, Ger Mellerick and Liam O’Shea, are a great help, while Declan Dalton impressed with the Cork U21s.
"Colm Barry has been very good for us too, I think with good coaching he could go up another level also. All the lads have been great, though, we’ve had 27 out of 30 making training sessions, which is outstanding.”
Their opponents have been the form team for a decade now in Cork, he adds.
“They’ve been on top a long time, Sars, but they recycled a lot of players at the start of the year and they’re a young team.
“They’ve had their own issues, as every team does, and they deserve great credit for getting so far. They’re very lively, you’ll have to play well against them to win, but once you make a senior county semi-final in Cork you have to play well, don’t you?”
The prospect of a first county final in the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh is enticing.
“You have to earn experience, we won some earlier rounds convincingly but the opposition has stepped up seriously in the last couple of rounds.
“In fairness, the lads have answered that too. Sars are a serious test in that regard, and so were Erin’s Own — they were in the county final only last year, after all.
“And the carrot is big, obviously, a county final. Sars obviously feel the same way but we haven’t been in a county final as a division since 2001.
“It’d be outstanding to make it to the first county final in the new Páirc.
“For us making a county semi-final is huge anyway, and there’s great credit due to the players, everyone has put in the work so we hope we can keep it going for another couple of games.”
Condon says Imokilly should be picking from a full panel: “Injury-wise we have a couple of lads we’re keeping an eye on. Ian Cahill might be in trouble, he got a belt on the shoulder and we’re watching him.
“But we’re not too bad, we’re looking forward to the game now.”
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