*Inagh/Kilnamona’s David Fitzgerald. Photograph: Sport Action Photography
2019 was a massive jolt in the right direction for Inagh-Kilnamona, having finally made the leap from dark horses to genuine contenders following an interminably extended period of transition.
Management: Fergal Hegarty (Manager), Ronan O’Looney, Mark Rynne, Brian Vaughan, Dermot Lynch, Steve Cusack (S&C), Francie O’Halloran (Goalkeeping Coach)
Captain: Kevin Hehir
Most Recent Title: N/A
Key Player: Aidan McCarthy
Fresh Blood: Conner Hegarty
Two Under 21A and a Minor A crown in the space of three years from 2016-18 ushered in a new crop of talent to an already impressive squad that were brimming with confidence and eager to make their mark at senior level.
That promise was quickly capitalised upon as Inagh-Kilnamona first contested the Clare Cup final before embarking on a rollercoaster championship run that was only halted at the death in the semi-final to eventual champions Sixmilebridge who produced a remarkable seven point final quarter turnaround.
Even though it was their last competitive outing, that penultimate stage clash seems like a lifetime away now for manager Fergal Hegarty who feels that they will be starting from scratch this Friday.
“We had a reasonably good run last year and it was disappointing obviously that we didn’t get over the line in the semi-final. So having the Clare Cup this year would have been nice to see exactly where we would have been as we were hoping to blood a few new players again as we have talent coming through but unfortunately we have been unable to do that. But look, that’s the same for every team but with no Clare Cup or anything to prepare or build upon, what happened last year is now null and void essentially.
“On the plus side, we’re just delighted to be back playing at all this year and hopefully the games will go ahead as scheduled for the next few weeks.
“Fellas were mad keen to get back at it and I suppose we’ve been guided by the rules and our COVID Officer Paul Gannon has been excellent with us so we were conscious of doing things properly and we have abided by that and the players have been comfortable with that approach. We have four challenge games played so we think we’re doing okay but we won’t really know until Friday night how exactly we’re progressing.
“I mean challenge matches are fine but with the water breaks, they tend to peter out in the last quarter so from a fitness perspective we don’t fully know where we are either but come Friday, hopefully these things will come together. We’re just looking forward to it now albeit that we are missing a few key players. We think we’re okay but we’re up against a strong team so we’ll see how it goes.”
Their opponents Clooney-Quin have contested a county final in the past three seasons however and do have the edge from their last championship meeting in 2016. “From what I recall it was a very tight game in Shannon but Clooney-Quin got a lot of goals that day and deservedly won it. As a management team, we’ve met Clooney-Quin twice and we beat them last year while they beat us the year before so it just shows how thin the margins are between us.
“That’s the only form guide we can go on but they are a big physical team and were very unlucky not to win a championship as we all know in 2017 and most of that team are still around. And they’ve some very experienced backs so they’re a wily team, they’ve a good spirit about them and therefore we’ll have to be at our best to be able to get in there and compete with them.”