*Colm O’Gorman, Paul Reidy, Connor Crowley, Brian Dillon & Michael Doran. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill.
KILMIHIL turned to a friendly neighbour to help them in their quest to bounce back to the senior ranks at the first attempt and to do that they must take down a nearby club.
When Doonbeg’s Brian Dillon was first approached to manage Kilmihil’s intermediate footballers, it didn’t take too long to answer in the affirmative.
“The decision was made easy by the fact that Kilmihil were in a different division to my own club, Doonbeg. I know their club chairman Paul Reidy well and Kilmihil is close to my home. It ticked all the boxes”, the Ennistymon based secondary school teacher told The Clare Echo this week as he put final touches to preparations for Saturday’s eagerly awaited final clash with Kilrush, a game that will be played on a pitch he knows well, Shanahan McNamara Park in Doonbeg.
Helping Kilmihil hit their optimum was the focus for Brian. “Kilmihil are passionate about their football. I felt that there was a talented group of players there but for whatever reason they weren’t performing to their best”.
Looking ahead to Saturday, he knows Kilmihil “face a stiff challenge from Kilrush who are our neighbours. It’s a West Clare derby. It’s been as very good year for Kilrush to date. They have won the league and they had a big win over Cooraclare in round one. They have got better as the championship progressed and they took a huge scalp when beating Wolfe Tones in the semi-final. We are under no illusions as to the challenge were are facing”.
On the strengths of the side who last won the intermediate championship in 2017, the Doonbeg native stated, “we have a good mix of youth and experience. The average age is 24/25 and players like Marty (O’Leary) and David (Egan) bring a small bit more experience. The intermediate championship is a difficult one to win. I spoke to a few before I took on the job, it’s a dog fight, a different brand of football. The Kilmihil players have shown great resilience, when they weren’t playing well they have found ways of getting over the line and we will need that on Saturday”.
Noting that the club’s junior team has qualified for the junior B final which will take place on Sunday, he said “it’s great for the club to have two teams in county finals and remember the ladies were very unlucky last week when losing out after extra time in their semi-final.
“There is a great buzz in the parish ahead of this week’s finals. Our goal from the start has been to get back to senior. Hopefully the weather will be fine and that there will be a big West Clare crowd. Thankfully we have a clean bill of health with Dan Keating and David Egan recovered from the injuries which kept them out of the semi-final”, he concluded.