Kanturk hurlers must learn from tough first season at Premier Senior level

Dual club can turn their attention to football glory after avoiding relegation
Kanturk hurlers must learn from tough first season at Premier Senior level

Kanturk's Liam O'Keeffe wins possession from Midleton's Sean O'Leary Hayes in the Co-op Superstores Cork PSHC at Fermoy. Picture: Denis Minihane.

THERE were emotional scenes at the final whistle in Fermoy on Sunday when Kanturk, who had been staring into a relegation final, turned in a massive performance in overcoming Midleton by a single point. 

It means that Midleton do not progress to the knockout stages, a major surprise given they landed the Seán Óg Murphy Cup last season, while Kanturk finish their hurling season on a high.

They have avoided a play-off to save their Premier Senior status for 2023.

Selector Donagh Duane, who was also the sub keeper, has seen the club evolve beyond recognition over the past 20 years, coming up from the junior ranks in hurling to the top tier with just 12 clubs divided into three groups.

He's a fan of the current system, though feels there are a few tweaks that would make it more engaging.
"I think the lower seeded teams should meet towards the end of the round robin section. If strong teams had to meet each other early on it might be better." 

It is vital to win your first game and in Kanturk's case, they lost the first two matches, which left them facing an uphill struggle to even survive. 

Understandably, Duane favours the split season and the earlier Munster and All-Ireland finals. Kanturk have a host of inter-county players involved at U20 and senior, hurling and football. 

"The county players are needed by their clubs so it's a good thing that they get a proper chance to play for Kanturk. I do feel it's fierce tough on dual teams though, playing week after week."

Kanturk's Brian O'Sullivan trying to get past Midleton's Ross O'Regan. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Kanturk's Brian O'Sullivan trying to get past Midleton's Ross O'Regan. Picture: Denis Minihane.

Manager Tom Walsh was delighted with the result and the performance. 

"It is a great way to end the hurling season. The last time we were involved in a big occasion was the SAHC success last year over Fr O'Neill's. 

I am every bit as proud of them today. We were written off, nobody gave us a chance and the relegation final was staring us in the face. 

"Now we can concentrate on football next weekend." 

They started the year well but found the dual demands caught up with them. 

"We had a great run in the league reaching the semi-final. With dual players, we were on the road 18 weeks with only one off. We had a number of injuries. 

"Our time for preparation for the championship was limited and we were in a very tough group. It was great to avoid relegation and the big thing is we are back in top grade senior again next year. The experience will stand to the lads."

Experienced coach Frank Flannery was thrilled with the result. 

"We lost our opening games against Newtownshandrum and Douglas and so this game was pressure. Our lads performed well in training and to maintain Premier Senior status for next year is vital. 

"We had big ambitions at the start of the year but it did not work out. To come out here today in a game that we had to win against the reigning Premeir SHC kingpins Midleton and get a result shows what these lads are made of. 

"After losing to Newtown we did not have the momentum for the game against Douglas. We got our heads together in recent weeks and put in a great performance to get the victory today. 

"Next year's draws and league games are only around the corner. We will be able to concentrate on football now and maybe get to the knockout stages there."

Kanturk were beaten in last year's PIFC decider.

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