CILL NA MARTRA manager Kevin O’Sullivan sensed there was a big performance in his side going into the final group game against Knocknagree in the Bon Secours Premier Intermediate Football Championship at Mourneabbey last weekend.
But he still had to pinch himself following the Gaeltacht club’s remarkable 7-11 to 0-13 victory, which earned them a semi-final against either Aghada or Kanturk.
“I certainly didn’t expect that, never in my wildest dreams,” he said afterwards. “It’s actually a hard one to figure out.”
Cill na Martra had the safety net of a guaranteed quarter-final spot if the result went against them, while all the pressure was on their opponents.
“We were certainly going very well with the lads in the last couple of weeks,” said O’Sullivan.
“In the first game against Naomh Aban, we ground out a win without playing exceptionally well and we definitely improved against St Vincent’s.
“Then in the last few weeks in training, lads were starting to click and really moving well.
“They’re buying into the style of play we want to implement — speed and lads coming off the shoulder, stuff like that.
“It certainly clicked on this occasion, and I must admit I’m a little bit lost for words for scoring so many goals and the margin of the victory.”
What is remarkable about their 7-11 was that it all came from play, taking full advantage of playing with the wind from the start.
“We decided to play with the wind in the first half if we won the toss,” said O’Sullivan.
“I said to our captain Shane (O Duinnin): ‘Let’s play with it first.’
“There was probably extra pressure on Knocknagree, who had to win, so our thinking was ‘let’s get ahead of them and force them to come and play us’.
“We got a great start, created goal chances and took them, as well as scoring some good points.
“At times, some of our inside forward line were outstanding.”
All three, Damien Harrington and the two Duinnins, Dan and Shane, got enjoyed combined tally of 4-8. Dan, in particular, showcased all his talents. Apart from contributing 1-4, he was heavily involved in the creation of other scores, too.
“We all know how good he is, there’s no doubt about that,” said O’Sullivan.
“Dan’s a fantastic young fellow, who is not involved with Cork at the moment, but anyone looking on must be wondering is there a better forward around the county than Dan at the minute.
“Tadhg Corkery is in with the Cork boys, but he is massively committed to the show and there is a big commitment needed to be involved at inter-county level.
“Dan’s a lovely young fellow. He’s simple to work with because he’ll do anything and he’ll be hurling with Aghabullogue at the weekend, so that will keep him going.”
Cill na Martra turned around 3-9 to 0-7 in front, having dazzled Knocknagree with 2-4 without
response inside eight minutes.
They were 3-6 to 0-3 clear by the first water break as their pace and interplay shredded the under-pressure Knocknagree defence.
“We felt at half time that, once we didn’t concede a goal, Knocknagree weren’t going to get back into the game,” said O’Sullivan.
“They were 11 points down and were not going to come back by just kicking points alone.
“Noel O’Leary just dropped back a bit deeper, covered some space in front of the full-forward line and we got our two wing-
forwards (Ciaran O Duinnin and Cristoir O Meachair) to pick up his man.
“Having said all that, Knocknagree could have scored a couple of goals in the first half.
“Our keeper Anthony O’Connell pulled off two great saves from John Fintan Daly.
“It would have been a totally different game if they were only a few points down at the break.
“They’re the small margins, and in fairness, Anthony has worked very hard on his game in the last few years. And his kick-outs were very good, too.
“Knocknagree are still there and they’re going to be serious
opposition for Nemo.
“They’re quite capable of coming back and providing a sting in the tale later in the