HAVING spent two seasons at the highest grade in Cork hurling, Kanturk are itching to return to Premier Senior level.
A revamped championship in 2020 saw a new inaugural premier senior grade with previous Premier IHC winners such as Kanturk and Charleville just missing out on a reduction of teams and a number consigned to the second tier and a new senior A status.
Of course, Kanturk enjoyed a fairytale run in 2017-'18 culminating in All-Ireland IHC glory at Croke Park.
That elevated Kanturk to senior ranks where for two seasons, they were competitive only to incur defeats in key championship tussles to experienced Newtownshandrum and Ballyhea combinations.
“It’s fair to say that they are no easy games in senior level, a strong squad required and we probably didn’t get a fair crack of the whip to retain the status,” said club secretary John Healy.
And despair for Kanturk last season after giving it everything only to come short to eventual champions Charleville in a dramatic county SAHC semi-final.
Having operated with 14 players for the second half after the red carding of the experienced Lorcán McLoughlin, it was easy to appreciate Kanturk’s frustrations after coming so close to snatching victory only to concede a late run of scores.
“A disappointing outcome to a great game, we were thereabouts right up to the end but apart from the sending off, we failed to convert our chances,” said the club secretary.
“We will renew rivalry with Bandon in the Group stages in the upcoming campaign, some close tussles over the years going either way.
“There is a North Cork flavour on a meeting with Fermoy, they have bettered us in football and Blarney up from Premier Intermediate level revives memories of an IHC tussle going back a few years where it took extra time for Kanturk to emerge,” said Healy.
Of course, the move of Anthony Nash to South Liberties in Limerick sees a vital cog removed yet Healy is confident that new coach Frank Flannery has young talent at his disposal to blend with experienced personnel.
“Frank had been involved with our minor team for a few years."
Those sides included cousins Colin and Tommy Walsh, Cork minors last year, county U20 player Brian O’Sullivan, and All-Ireland U20 football medalist Daniel O’Connell, who is set to return from a cruciate injury.
Prior to Kanturk hitting the road in search of Cork County SAHC accolades, there is a little matter of Cork County Premier IFC Final to resolve from 2020, Kanturk pitted against Knocknagree in the all Duhallow showdown.
Once the action returns, Kanturk are certain to head into a new season in an optimistic mindset with possible football and hurling accolades on the horizon.