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Sean Dowling and Adrian Royle, celebrating after Kilmoyley defeated Monaleen in the Munster Intermediate Hurling Championship Semi-Final.

Sean Dowling and Adrian Royle, celebrating after Kilmoyley defeated Monaleen in the Munster Intermediate Hurling Championship Semi-Final.

Kilmoyley making Munster impact

By Cian O'Connell

On Saturday afternoon Kilmoyley will travel from North Kerry to Mallow loaded with hope and optimism.

Contesting a Munster Intermediate Final against Waterford’s Lismore, prompted by the splendid Shanahan brothers, is rich reward for the constantly improving Kilmoyley.

Having secured a 24th Kerry SHC title, Kilmoyley were delighted to secure a provincial Semi-Final triumph over Monaleen. “It is almost unbelievable to be looking forward to a final,” Chairman Joe Walsh admits.

“We have been trying to get to this stage for a while. This is our fourth attempt at Intermediate level, we were in the Senior Championship four times during the noughties, we were unlucky there once or twice. This is our fourth attempt at the Intermediate.”

Just over a decade ago Kilmoyley delivered a string of defiant performances in the Munster Senior Championship. “We had two great displays against Blackrock one in Kilmoyley and one in Pairc Ui Chaoimh in 02 and then in 03 we were against Toomevara up in Semple Stadium which was a cracking game,” Walsh recalls. “They were fantastic games.

“We have been hoping and really wanting to progress in the Munster Intermediate, first of all to win a round of it and then to get to a final so to do that is great.”

Throughout the years Kilmoyley have been willing to bring in high profile coaches such as Anthony Daly and John Meyler to the club. Fergie O’Loughlin, the well regarded Clarecastle native, is now enjoying a productive stint on the sideline with Kilmoyley.

“He is top class, a top, top trainer,” Walsh says about O’Loughlin. “It is a good thing because when you are in the middle of a successful period it is no harm at all to change things around, to freshen things up. I think he came here at the right time.”

Walsh acknowledges there is an air of expectation surrounding Kilmoyley since the Monaleen success.

“It is a great achievement for us to reach a Munster Final, no matter what. When a Kerry club wins they are nearly assured when they come out of the County in Football that they'll get as far as a Munster Final and even go on to an All Ireland Final which they have done repeatedly. Our neighbours here, Ardfert, have gone to three finals and they have won them. It is nearly a given in the football.

“There is a buzz, I was at the last final Ballyduff were in. They were in finals in 2011 and 2012 and they were very unlucky the first year not to actually win it out. They got tremendous support right across the county that time.”

Kerry’s improvement in the Allianz Hurling League and how they fared in the Leinster Senior Championship Round Robin series bodes well. “There is a good bunch of players there at the moment and they have been there for the past couple of years,” Walsh says about how the Kerry team, stocked with Kilmoyley players, is developing.

“They are adding one or two every year to the county team and they are quite talented. I suppose strength and conditioning is the problem in that they wouldn't be as forward as the top counties, but hopefully with a couple of more seasons and a couple of more strength and conditioning programmes, you'd be hoping they could get up to that mark.”

For now, though, the focus is on producing a performance in Mallow. “It is a formidable task for us, but we are hoping to bring a first Munster Club hurling title back to Kerry, that is what we want,” Walsh remarks. It should be an interesting encounter.

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