THE relief was apparent on Tim Healy’s face after Kanturk ground out a narrow victory over Cill na Martra, with talk turning to an all-Duhallow final neighbours Knocknagree.
That should be taking place this Saturday, but now all club activity is on hold after the GAA pre-empted the government move to Level 3 of Covid restrictions.
There is always something special about a county final and a unique pairing featuring two teams from the North West barony and involving players that won All-Ireland club medals on the same weekend in Croke Park with their respective clubs in 2018.
“It's going to be a fantastic occasion, two great teams, it;s easy to say Knocknagree conceded seven goals against Cill na Martra and we overcame the same opposition.
“In contrast, we shipped four goals to Nemo Rangers and Knocknagreeand went on to better them, it's difficult to follow the logic, what’s involved is a local derby, that adds extra spice and there is plenty to focus on,” said Healy.
“If we had been involved on the other side of the semi-final draw, Newmarket would have been favourites to defeat us, Knocknagree bettered Newmarket by playing good football, finals are hard-won, there is no trophy given out at a semi-final and that puts everything into context,” he said.
From the semi-final victory, Kanturk were put to the pin of their collar to better a Cill na Martra side that won direct passage to the semis from the Group stage and a team that all pretenders to the throne had to topple yet Healy wants Kanturk to again rise to the occasion.
“A scoreline of 0-12 to 0-11 against Cill na Martra will count for nothing if we don’t complete the job next weekend. It will be a different type of game and after a series of tough battles, its now all about being fresh for the next task,” said Healy.
From a monumental football battle, Kanturk deserve immense credit given their dual excursions of late that included a heartbreaking County SAHC defeat to Charleville at the same stage.
“Every team wants to get into a final, that’s the nature of a semi, the objective is crossing the line. We got some great scores in the opening half, just two in the second spell, but remember, we had a tough game here a week earlier against Charleville.
"That entailed 13 dual players, it was obvious tiredness would creep in and we introduced four substitutes to bring a bit of impetus to our game,” said the Kanturk manager.
“We were well aware of the capabilities of the Cill Na Martra attack and their scoring prowess yet our defence were superb and really stood up to the test. Aidan Walsh picked up an injury in the hurling, no way could he start, there was half an hour in him, what an outstanding performance once introduced."