*Martin O’Leary is challenged by Conor Magner. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
KILMIHIL believe they have yet to produce their top performance and joint captain Martin O’Leary is aiming for them to deliver it this weekend.
Being relegated from senior last year was “a huge disappointment” for Kilmihil, team captain Martin O’Leary said this week when looking ahead to Saturday’s intermediate final clash with Kilrush Shamrocks.
He told The Clare Echo, “Having played at senior level, we were all bitterly disappointed last year when we were relegated. That said, having failed to win a game in the group, by right we were the team to bite the bullet at the end of the day. The margins are pretty small. Look at Miltown who beat us last year to send us down, they got to the senior semi-final this year. Brian (Dillon) and Paul (Reidy) have instilled great intensity into the training this year and they have stressed the importance of looking after the bodies outside of training. They are very meticulous”.
Paying tribute to Dillon and Reidy, the talented forward also noted the input of backroom team members such as Michael Doran, a native of Armagh who lives in Kilmihil and who has thrown his lot in with the club.
“We set out our objectives at the start of the year and getting a team management in place was a priority. We hadn’t a whole pile done going into the league. We started the league well and built a good base of fitness and we had consolidated our league position early on”, Martin explained this week.
O’Leary continued, “We have a lot based away from home so early in the season we could only do a certain amount during the week. We lost a few players due to injury which meant that we had to use more of our squad and this actually helped overall as these players got more game time”.
“Within our own camp we feel we haven’t hit our top performance yet. Like us, Kilrush have done their job up to now in getting to the final and they will come with all guns blazing. It’s all about Saturday now. It’s great to be togging out at this time of year. It’s an absolute honour for myself and Fionn Febrarro to be joint captains of this team. It’s going to be 50/50. Kilrush are a very proud club also with some really good players”.
A noted dual player, he has played a key role in the senior championship successes of Ballyea in recent seasons. “It’s a privilege to be able to play both and thankfully there have been no serious injuries as a result. Brian and Paul were good when we were playing both in allowing us time to play both. It didn’t go to plan in terms of the hurling this year but that has given us more time to focus on the football”, he concluded.
Marty hopes that he and his team’s corner bsck Fionn Febrarro will be bringing home the Talty Stores cup on Saturday evening.