KANTURK captain Lorcan O’Neill is hopeful his side will raise their performance sufficiently to handle the serious challenge that Mallow will pose in tonight’s highly attractive Cork County Premier IHC final.
Popularly known as Figo, the Kanturk skipper understanding of the game has locked out opponents in the current campaign, colleagues powered on by his massive determination. O’Neill takes his nickname from the dazzling play of his idol Luis Figo, the former Portuguese and Real Madrid star.
“When playing soccer after school, I wore the Real Madrid jersey with Figo name on the back. That title has stuck to me over the years,” he said. “To be named club captain is a great honour. When growing up, I always wanted to be Kanturk captain in a final. Everybody knew we didn’t do ourselves justice last season, needing to beat Tracton to avoid possible relegation, going into 2017, we had expectations of faring much better.”
Tonight’s run out at Páirc Uí Rinn will be O’Neill’s third hurling final, mixed joy, losing to Kilworth in 2012 but gaining quick compensation to overcome Éire Óg the following year’s IHC.
“We learned a big lesson from the Kilworth defeat, the experience stood to us. This season, former player Donough Duane as the manager is doing all he can for the side and coach Jim McCarthy is very experienced, his knowledge of the game exceptional,” said O’Neill.
The team captain is quick to credit the input of inter-county players Anthony Nash, Lorcán McLoughlin and Aidan Walsh yet he is quick to say that every player has held a key role to the unbeaten run this season.
“Two years ago, we lost to Castlelyons and we were keen to turn the tables on coming up against them in the opening round. Really, in this grade, nobody can be taken for granted, any team could win on a given day,” he said.
“The game against Ballinhassig was tight, the rain made it difficult in greasy conditions, we got over the line, the perfect preparation for a final, involved in tough and competitive tussles.”
With the majority of the Kanturk side operating as dual players, O’Neill is also a key figure on the football’s march to a county IFC final.
“That’s the way, the club scene has gone in Cork, we train hard for preparation for games at this stage of the season. The success at underage is vital, that’s where, we’re today, learning from the skills developed at U8 levels. Hopefully, the current crop of young players will be playing senior hurling for Kanturk in 10 years.”