The John Horgan column: Kanturk showed their mettle to land the Munster title

The John Horgan column: Kanturk showed their mettle to land the Munster title
Liam O’Keeffe, Kanturk, and Conor Neylon, Kilmaley, fight for this breaking ball. Picture: Dan Linehan

IT’S almost a week old now but the victory of Kanturk in last Sunday’s Munster IHC final will linger for a lot longer.

When the month of November arrives many are inclined to switch off for a few months and only those with a direct involvement stay fully focused.

Quite a few people turn their noses to hurling in the months of November, December and January but quite often some of the games played in those months provide far better fare than one would get in June, July and August.

And if you are looking for an example, look no further than last Sunday’s epic on the Ennis Road between Kanturk and Kilmaley.

This was hurling in all its finery on a grey afternoon and to use a well-worn cliche, no quarter was asked or given.

Kanturk came out on top by a point but any neutral in the attendance, there were probably very few, would have settled for a draw and another game this weekend.

Kilmaley had an opportunity to grant that wish with a last-gasp free to level it all up but the ball went agonisingly wide for them and Kanturk were champions.

Their story is quite remarkable and who knows the final and most glorious chapter of all may yet be written in the All-Ireland series.

The Kanturk team who defeated Kilmaley. Picture: Dan Linehan
The Kanturk team who defeated Kilmaley. Picture: Dan Linehan

So what made last Sunday so special?

Before the off the squad had to look on as star player Lorcan McLoughlin was rushed into the dressing room to have his shoulder put back into its socket after it popped out in the pre-match build-up.

That was bound to have had an unsettling effect on the players and he missed the opening few minutes of the game.

However, when he did arrive he made a massive contribution with a haul of four points and as a leader on this team he led by example which, of course, is typical of the man.

When the game went into extra-time there might have been a fear that, given the exertions of a very long season, the legs would not stand up.

But one more time they answered the call and came out on the right side by the minimum of margins.

Kanturk had led for most of the way, at one stage in the second-half they led by six points but they found themselves trailing by a point in stoppage time.

Had everything finally taken its toll on them?

The answer was provided in an instant when one of their corner-backs, Paul Walsh took matters into his own hands to race up the field and fire over the equaliser.

Another example of their never say die attitude.

We must not forget what Bandon achieved last year, county success in the same two grades, PIHC and IFC but now Kanturk have gone that extra mile in taking the Munster crown.

Most of the players had a dual mandate which is par for the course in most clubs and to secure the level of success that Kanturk have now achieved is almost beyond the call of duty.

Anthony Nash. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Anthony Nash. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Of course, having players of the calibre of Anthony Nash, Lorcán McLoughlin and Aidan Walsh gives them a great base but on Sunday you had heroes everywhere from John McLoughlin and Darren Browne in defence right up to Liam O’Keeffe in the attack.

This was a massive team effort, off the field as well with former player Donagh Duane extracting the maximum from the players.

We must mention too Tom Walsh, Padraig Kearns and Jim McCarthy and of course club secretary Francis Kenneally, all playing important roles.

No matter what transpires now in the All-Ireland series, Kanturk’s year has been a story of unprecedented success.

Their name will come out of the draw drum as a senior club next season, the first ever from the barony of Duhallow and that is another milestone.

These are the days of their lives for everybody involved in the Kanturk club and they are making the most of them.

From the day that this team set off on the Cork trail against Castlelyons, the two jousts with Charleville, the semi-final and final wins over Ballinhassig and Mallow respectively and now the Munster days of glory against Ballyduff and Kilmaley, these players have been a credit to this proud club.

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