Munster Intermediate Club Hurling Final
(Lismore v Kilmoyley [Kerry], Mallow)
Supporters of relegated Saint Saviour’s Football Club should draw some solace from Lismore’s year in senior hurling exile.
The season spent at the Intermediate grade has rejuvenated the black and gold, and with Western and County Championships already on the sideboard, the prospect of a Munster crown has sent the Heritage Town into a tizzy ahead of Saturday’s clash with Kerry’s Kilmoyley.
A silk purse has already been sown out of a sow’s ear, and there may well be more bacon to bring home from the superb Mallow venue this weekend, yet nothing will be taken for granted as Kilmoyley continue to beat a welcome drum for hurling in the Kingdom.
“They are a serious outfit,” said Kilmoyley manager Fergie O’Loughlin of Lismore. “When you weigh it up I suppose they’re really a good senior outfit in Waterford and a bit unlucky to be relegated. It is what it is and I think they have a few big guns – as we have. Our hands will be full, but I think it’s not out of reach for us either.”
For Dan Shanahan, relishing his Indian Summer in the heart of the hurling winter, Saturday’s final represents an opportunity to maintain the feel good factor sweeping through the club.
“We know it’s intermediate, but it’s the situation we’ve found ourselves in this year,” said the former Hurler of the Year, speaking at the Granville Hotel on Wednesday last.
“But it’s great for the people of Lismore. To have the flags up flying at this time of the year is unbelievable. Getting clapped off coming off the field the last few weeks, and after beating two good teams (Newport and Bandon) has been fantastic…we got the last three points against Newport and showed a bit of character that maybe we hadn’t shown in other years.
“But as I said, it’s great for the people of Lismore, the people doing the donkey work, selling the Lotto tickets, keeping the club going, it’s unbelievable. And when you get to a final, all you want to do is win it, but we know we’ve a tough assignment facing us against Kilmoyley.”
Dan added: “They have two or three inter-county Kerry hurlers and we all know the way Kerry hurling has improved. So we’ve a tough task ahead of us. They’re senior hurlers, they’re senior champions and they put away a good Monaleen side (by 4-12 to 0-13) in their semi-final.”
Fergie O’Loughlin’s side are likely to deploy a sweeper on Saturday, something neither Modeligo nor Dunhill opted for when facing Lismore in the Western and County Finals, so Jack Prendergast may find space at a premium, particularly in the opening 20 minutes.
O’Loughlin added: “Lismore seem to be a team that’s coming out of the blocks very fast, but I think if we can curb Dan and more so Maurice and be disciplined, which is going to be a vital factor, I think we’re in with a great shout…
“I think we have [moved on to another level] and it’s something I’ve been talking about since the Monaleen game to a few people…. I just think the lads are playing a little bit more off the cuff, they’re playing and not knowing too much about either team and not holding back, it’s a factor for these guys. They’re young, they’re fresh. What they showed against Monaleen the last day I just think they played with a little bit of freedom, nothing fazed them and nothing got on top of them and I think they’ll bring that into the Lismore game as well.”
Attempts to coax club legend Shane Brick out of retirement again (as proved the case when they clinched the Kerry title) have not borne fruit for O’Loughlin, but Dan Shanahan expects Saturday to be a relative step into the unknown for both sides.
“Look, they’ve probably a bit of information on Maurice and Ray Barry (modestly excluding himself from such a roll call) but our management went up and had a look at them last week to see if they could pick up on any weakness in their set-up. To push on and win a Munster title with the club is the stuff you dream about – sure, it’s intermediate – but those were the cards we were dealt with this year and hopefully we can get the right result on Saturday.”
Lismore have taken things up a few gears since entering the knockout stages of the Western Championship, and their goal threat is immense.
Kilmoyley will need to repeat their goalscoring feats from their Monaleen assignment – while also curbing Lismore’s offensive threat – if they’re to stand any chance of producing an upset. Wary of the near miss in their quarter-final win over Newport, one suspects Lismore have the werewithal to end their ‘gap year’ with a flourish.
* With thanks to Damian Stack of The Kerryman.