Cork U21B HC final: With nine Cork SFC titles, the most recent in 2009, Clonakilty are seen as a footballing powerhouse.
There’s little chance of them abandoning the O’Neills size 5 anytime soon, but hurling is making a rumble in the brewery town. This year, Newcestown were the only other West Cork club to be competing at Premier 2 level or higher in minor hurling and tonight, Clon face Killeagh/Ita’s in the U21BHC final in Páirc Uí Rinn (6.15pm).
Their emergence as a hurling force hasn’t been an overnight affair; rather the result of a concerted effort to turn things around, as manager Séamus O’Brien reveals.
“There was concern about hurling at underage level,” he says.
“A plan was put in place, number one to protect hurling down here and number two to enhance it and raise the standards. It’s bearing fruit now. A lot of good work has been put in.
“It’s basically just hard work. If you go out on a Saturday morning, the number of children from the ages of 6-10 out there is just incredible.
“Some of the people, I don’t even know as people who’d have moved into Clon have become involved, which is great. It’s all done in an organised fashion.”
Twelve of the starting team this evening will be underage again next year, when Clonakilty will compete at the ‘A’ grade in the Carbery division. Few would write them off there, but there are more pressing matters at hand.
“They’re fairly used to success,” O’Brien says, “but having said that they’ll be taking another step up this week now. We’ll be there or thereabouts though, we’re in with a fighting chance.
“We’re certainly going to go and enjoy the day and you never know, we just might do it. Back in the West Cork semi-final, we played Kilbrittain and they were highly fancied but we really proved ourselves that day.
“That gave the belief that we could kick on, the county semi-final against Ballygiblin was the same and hopefully we can go a step further.”
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