KANTURK mentor Donagh Duane is delighted that his team has reached the Cork Premier IHC county final.
They're newcomers to the stage, but very much there on merit after defeating Ballinhassig in a tight and exciting clash.
He didn’t get much of a chance to see the other semi-final which was the first of the double-headers in Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday, but he knows enough about Mallow to suggest they will be formidable opposition.
“Mallow they are a huge team, massive men throughout the pitch. This is a massive test for us. This was Mallow’s third semi-final in a row. They have been knocking on the door for a while now.
"They will have as much hunger and appetite as we have. But, we are relishing the final. We are near enough neighbours, there will be a bit of banter going on.
"But look, Mallow are like us, they have football as well to concentrate on.
"Both teams are in the same position. I’d see the final as a level playing field.
"We will have to knuckle down now, and hopefully get the job done.”
Kanturk play Glanworth in the Cork IFC quarter-final on Saturday first, while Mallow will actually take on Bandon in the PIFC semi-final a week later, ensuring both clubs are busy.
“There are 13 or 14 of the hurlers that will be playing football again next weekend. That is part and parcel of it.
"This is their livelihood. The likes of Bandon proved that last year, you just get on with the job. They will relish the challenge of football.
"When you have that winning momentum, it is hard to stop it.”
It will be a great few weeks for the club as they prepare for their first Premier intermediate hurling final.
“This is a huge win for the club, it is a historic occasion for us to finally get to the Premier final. It is the furthest this club has ever got.
"These guys are very professional about how they approach things, they know we have nothing won yet. Okay, they know we have won a fierce tough game tonight against a very resolute, experienced and hardened Ballinhassig side.
"We showed character to keep going in adverse conditions. I am very happy with the manner we won it.
Now he is hoping they can keep that progress going.
“They know there is more in them. There is more work to do, we have three weeks to prepare for a historic day.
"No doubt the lads will knuckle down and they will be right. Ballinhassig were a stiff test.
"Our lads are learning all the time. In 2014, we got to the semi-final stage as well in our first year up and we learned a lot. Newcestown showed us what this grade is about. That was a wet day as well.
"It has taken us a couple of years to adjust and get it right and I think we showed that there tonight. Our fitness has been impeccable this year.
"We have a fellow helping us from Glen Rovers – Jim McCarthy – and he has to take a lot of credit for this tonight, in fairness to him. He has put this hunger mentality into the players that we haven’t had over the last three years. It is back, I can see it in them.
"When you get an opportunity, you have to take it. You need to finish it or you are in trouble.”
Dual player Aidan Walsh is being picked at full-forward, in part down to injury problems.
“Aidan has had a troublesome year with injuries. He is slowly but surely coming back to fitness. He is a good target man and draws attention. He frees up the other players around him.
"He was a bit starved of ball tonight but that was the way the game was.
"It was fierce physical. There was no time on the ball. It was fast. But anytime it went it he was dangerous.
"Another three weeks will help for his recovery from injuries.”