*Kilmihil players celebrate. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

BRIAN DILLON had the distinction of guiding Kilmihil back to the promised land while standing on home soil.

Doonbeg native Dillon came on board as Kilmihil manager at the start of 2023 with the primary intention of helping them realise their potential and secure a return back to the senior ranks.

Standing in Shanahan McNamara Park, a field he has so often travelled to during his days training with Doonbeg, he was a proud figure with members of family among those making it their business to congratulate him on a job well done.

Facing off with Kilrush Shamrocks was always going to pose a tricky task, he recounted. “We’re delighted to get over the line, we knew it was going to be tough but I felt we played better football over the hour, it’s a final Kilrush have huge history and it was always going to be a battle, when the goal went in at the end I tell you it was nervous staff but we hung on and got over the line”.

Completing the job in his home turf added a special dimension to the success, he admitted.
“A few people said it to me during the week, I didn’t think about it to be honest, of course it does, I’m coming here since I was four or five years of age, little did I think this time last year that I’d be here with Kilmihil and winning an intermediate so it’s brilliant, these are the days you live for, it is great”.

Starting the second half with three unanswered points gave them a crucial platform, the secondary school teacher in Ennistymon acknowledged. “Our first half performance against the wind was very good, even though we went in at half time level but I felt we played the better football, Gearoid’s goal was key but the start of the second time was key and it settled us again, we were four points up with three or four minutes to go but when that goal went in it was backs to the wall and thankfully we held on anyway”.

In advance of the county final, Brian told The Clare Echo there had always been talent in Kilmihil and that his job was to get the best out of them. Now with promotion achieved and a Munster club run to follow, does he think he ticked that particular box. “Hopefully, there was always talented players here but I think it was just to get over the line in tight games, they’ve done that, not just today but down through the championship, it is a small thing but it is enough for this year”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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