SAHC: Kanturk's duals hoping to sparkle in final against Fr O'Neills

Denis Hurley talks to Lorcán McLoughlin as the Duhallow club aim to complete the first leg of what could be another double
SAHC: Kanturk's duals hoping to sparkle in final against Fr O'Neills

Lorcán McLoughlin of Kanturk battles for possession with Bandon's Cian O'Mahony in their Co-op SuperStores Cork SAHC game at Coachford in September. Picture: Dan Linehan

BACK in 2017, Kanturk managed to achieve a double with victory in the county premier intermediate hurling and intermediate football championships.

While such feats are not unknown – Valley Rovers, Bandon, Grenagh and Éire Óg have managed doubles over the past decade and a half – it’s certainly rare that a club would pull it off twice in quick succession, but the Duhallow club could yet tick that box.

Last week’s Bons Secours Hospital PIFCtarget="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> semi-final win over Aghada means that they have two finals to look forward to, with the first of those being Sunday’s Co-op SuperStores SAHC decider against Fr O’Neills in Páirc Uí Chaoimh (1.30pm).

Former Cork star Lorcán McLoughlin has been one of the leading lights in the dual run but, while he hopes that the successes of four years ago can be repeated, he knows it’s not easy.

“Back to the future!” he laughs.

“It’s how the year develops, really. We would have been ambitious enough to feel that we would be there or thereabouts in both, but we also understand the difficulties in trying to progress to the latter stages.

“We would have felt that we had the talent to compete at the business end in both and 2017 would have proven that it can be done but then, other years would have highlighted how difficult it actually is.

Some years, we’d have fallen down in trying to do both but we always believed that we had the talent within the group.”

Kanturk topped their groups in both codes, earning automatic semi-final spots, and McLoughlin feels that bypassing the quarter-finals was a huge help ahead of last-four clashes against Newcestown and Aghada.

“If we were just solely hurling or football, that extra game might have helped,” he says, “but, when we were trying to progress in both, we definitely needed that break.

“The grades are so competitive now that you really need to be topping your group to have a run at it.

“Thankfully, we’d a bit of luck as well along the way as things are so finely balanced. We had a draw in the hurling against Blarney and it came down to scoring difference, so it could have broken either way.”

Then, in the hurling semi a fortnight ago, the rest looked to have stood to Kanturk as they scored the game’s first five points. However, Newcestown roared back and led by eight points midway through the second half before a Kanturk revival led to extra time.

“It was vitally important that we got out of the blocks and got that lead early on,” McLoughlin says, “because when Newcestown did get a run on us, we found it very difficult to manage them but we still had that buffer from the start of the game.

Games are hard to time and we’ve had so many different performances over the years. We’re constantly working on trying to get that balance right.

“You just don’t know with sport. You might think that you’ve every box ticked and that you’re going well, but for whatever reason, the game unfolds a certain way and you can’t predict it.

“We haven’t delivered a good, consistent 60-minute performance. We’ve been good in patches but then teams have got a run on us and done damage. That’s probably a concern from the Newcestown game and Aghada in football the last day.

“It’s something that we can’t afford to do against Fr O’Neills because they will punish us.”

EXPERIENCE

Trying to ensure that doesn’t happen is Kanturk coach Frank Flannery, who took over from Ronan Curran after the St Finbarr’s native returned to take charge of his home club after bringing the Duhallow side to a semi-final last year. McLoughlin is full of praise for the impact of both.

“In fairness, they’ve been brilliant,” he says, “but I’ve no doubt that they’ve found it difficult because they’re out-and-out hurling men they know what it takes to prepare a team properly.

“Frank this year has probably only had 50 percent of the time that he’d need to work with us but he’s done a fantastic job. Between hurling and football and then trying to get fellas recovered, he’s had hardly any time to work with us but, when he has had that time, he’s done huge work, the same with Ronan last year.

“Fellas are really buying into it and it might be difficult but there are no complaints. Anything they’re telling us, we try to take on board and implement it. We have improved as the year as gone on but it’s just taken a bit longer, I suppose.”


More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more