KILLEAGH is renowned as a sporting hotbed.
Locals love their sport and through the time tunnel, they have had many reasons to celebrate the accomplishments of individuals and teams.
Founded in 1973, Kiileagh camogie club were crowned All-Ireland senior club champions just seven years later and this year marks the 40-year landmark of the club winning back-to-back county and provincial titles. Subsequently falling on slightly leaner times in the decades that followed, the outstanding individual achievements of players such as Mary O’Connor and Angela Walsh kept the club name very much to the fore.
Now they are on the march again, having reached the SE Systems County Senior semi-final in 2019 only to lose to Inniscarra. Boosted by the presence of Cork stars Laura Treacy, Chloe Sigerson and Hannah Looney coupled the rise of some quality young players, Killeagh have a right to feel that they will be there or thereabouts come the climax of the championship.
But, following on the pathway of tradition can sometimes be a tough challenge.
John O’Connor, brother of Mary is the current team boss, having shared the role in 2020. He says he hopes his side can feed off the club’s great history.
“We take that as a positive and not a pressure point.
Tradition is a plus. We have players involved now whose mothers were playing in the past, so there is always a bit of bragging going on.
“It’s also great to have Sheila Spillane around to inspire the players, she has been there since the very first day the club was formed.
“Last year we lost to St Finbarr’s. We had high expectations starting out, but the Barrs wanted it more.
“The loss of Laura Treacy due to a hand injury was obviously a big blow.
"With Covid last year it was fairly unique in that we had our inter-county players training with us all the time.
"Ideally, I would like to see a split-season happening again. Overall we feel we have a nice balance of experience and youth that we hope will bond together. Going on the last few years though, we will certainly have to knuckle down and improve.”
So in 2021, many eyes will watch how Killeagh perform. In two years, the club will celebrate it’s golden jubilee. In the year they were founded, Cork footballers and Limerick hurlers were both winning All-Ireland gold, in both cases ending a long barren spell.
For Killeagh the adventure was just beginning.
Now in 2021, Killeagh are dreaming again and hoping they can capture county silverware to put them back on their perch as champions.