Kilworth hurlers must keep up momentum in ultra-competitive PIHC

'We have a fair bit of experience both in the starting teams and on the bench, including guys that have gone the full distance with us in the championship campaigns all the way back to 2006.'
Kilworth hurlers must keep up momentum in ultra-competitive PIHC

Eoin Carey, Kilworth, tries to steer clear of a challenge from Conor O'Leary, Ballincollig. Picture: Larry Cummins.

THE Cork County Premier Intermediate Hurling Championship is always highly competitive, with the majority of the 12 clubs fancying their chances of glory. 

Relegated last year from Senior A grade, after losing their play-off to Killeagh, Kilworth were strong contenders for a quick return to the second tier, despite a tough group. 

Two games into their Group 3 schedule, Kilworth sit on three points in second place, one point behind impressive leaders Ballinhassig who have made it two wins from two. 

It sets up a fascinating last-day shoot-out as fourth seeds Aghada who lost both their games take on Ballincollig, with the Muskerry outfit knowing that if results and scores go their way they could make the knockout stages. 

Kilworth manager John Hegarty says his side is just happy to be in the mix, after their 0-28 to 1-17 win over Aghada and draw with Ballincollig. Last Autumn, their 3-18 to 2-20 extra-time defeat to Killeagh in Ballynoe condemned them to relegation. 

"We have a fair bit of experience both in the starting teams and on the bench, including guys that have gone the full distance with us in the championship campaigns all the way back to 2006. It is very much about the mix being right too, when you see the likes of Mikey Gowen coming on in the last round to make his championship debut. 

"Mikey Sheehan, who started the first day, came on against Agahda and made a really big impact. It is important that we have both youth and experience in our ranks."

Two players who have become central to Kilworth's performances in recent years were again amongst those to make a big mark against Aghada. 

Eoin Carey is an excellent playmaker and shooter, while Noel McNamara is their leading scorer.

"Eoin in the first half especially was so important to us getting a number of long-range points whilst Noel was the catalyst in the last quarter scoring from open play and frees."

Hegarty said the group know it'll take hard work to push into the latter stages of the PIHC. 

We were relegated last year and deserved to be here.  You lose your games and lose the relegation final, that's it, you go down. But the reaction has been really good. 

"These guys have refocused over the winter months, I couldn't have asked for any more from them. 

"We know in this grade it's always very tough. This is a knock-out game next time up against Ballinhassig - a game from yesteryear.

"Both teams will have a bit of momentum going into the match. For us there was good and bad the first day against Ballincollig, the Aghada win was really important, to hit 0-28 with a good spread of scorers. 

Nathan Byrne, Kilworth, passes the sliotar away from David Bowen, Ballincollig. Picture: Larry Cummins.
Nathan Byrne, Kilworth, passes the sliotar away from David Bowen, Ballincollig. Picture: Larry Cummins.

"Ballinhassig on the other hand have had standout results as we will have to up our game again. But overall, starting off the campaign we would have taken this position after two games. 

"I am under no illusions - we have a game to play and if we win it we are through, so our task is clear." 

FIXTURES:

Saturday, October 9: Kilworth v Ballinhassig; Ballincollig v Aghada, 7.30pm.

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