WHEN Kanturk line up this Sunday for their All-Ireland intermediate hurling semi-final against Ulster champions Middletown-Na Fianna at Newbridge, 2pm, they will be renewing acquaintances with a number of players that the club hosted 17 years ago.
The Armagh club came to Cork in 2001 when the Féile finals were held on Leeside.
In fact, the Cork club built up a strong relationship with the Northern club during their stay with families in the area, one of which was Aidan Walsh’s family.
Kanturk club secretary, Francis Kenneally told the Evening Echo who would have thought back then that their paths would collide all those years later.
“Yes, they stayed with us back then, it was the year of the Foot and Mouth and I am led to believe that up to 12 of the youngsters who were part of the squad that Kanturk hosted back in 2001 will be involved when we play them on Sunday.
“Some have stayed in contact and it will be great to meet up with them again but our only aim will be to qualify for an All-Ireland final.’’
And, despite being hot favourites to advance to the final against Kilkenny’s Ballyragget or Mayo’s Tooreen, Kanturk will tread very warily.
“Absolutely,” said Kenneally. “They have a fine pedigree and reached the final of this competition in 2012, losing to Mount Leinster Rangers who were subsequently beaten the following year by Portumna in the club senior final."
Kanturk have one major injury doubt for the big game with Liam O’Keeffe carrying a hand injury. The Duhallow club will be hoping to become the first Cork team to reach the final since Ballymartle won the title in 2011 after defeating Dicksboro from Kilkenny. Prior to that, Blarney were title winners in 2009.