OVER the past decade, St Michael’s have been adept at reaching the final of the second-tier football championship in Cork.
The city side reached the decider of the Premier IFC in 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019; then, following the restructuring which made senior A the level just below the penthouse, they made it to last year’s final. Unfortunately for them, defeat resulted on each occasion.
Following Saturday night’s semi-final win over O’Donovan Rossa, Michael’s are back in the final, where they will face Knocknagree on Sunday, October 30.
As disappointing as the losses have been, manager Dave Egan feels that the experience can be used to help them get over the line.
“Can we harness something? I believe we can,” he said.
“I believe there are lessons to be learned. Success leaves clues, but so does defeats. I have only been involved in one of them which was last year. I know where we went wrong last year and we have addressed it this year, we still haven’t got it right so there is still a bit of work to do.
“We have a couple of weeks there to polish it off. We can’t the change, we can’t control the future, but we can shape what we want to do for a final, and that’s what we’ll be doing for the next couple of weeks.
“They are a hungry bunch and there are winners there aplenty.”
On Saturday, Michael’s were very impressive, not least in terms of the response after Skibb came from six points down as half-time approached to trail by just a point early in the second half.
Egan was certainly worried about his opponents’ capabilities.
“We played them in 2020,” he said, “I think we were nine up at half-time and they beat us by a point, so too right I was worried!
“All our subs had a hand in the two goals we got. That’s a positive there, as well, that we do have good players to come on. We robbed Billy Cain off the junior As, who are in a quarter-final in a few weeks.
“Our U19s are in a final next week so there is good energy and a good buzz about the place. Kicking that today, and all that is going on behind us, if we can just build on it and keep building on it.
“All that is not really worth much if you leave it behind the next day.”
Michael’s had nine different scorers, with just two points of their total not coming from open play. The starting full-forward line of Robbie Cotter, Adam Hennessy and Eric Hegarty combined for 1-11 from play, while subs Luke O’Herlihy and Eoin O’Donovan scored 1-4 between them. It’s a state of affairs that Egan is more than happy with.
“If I went and read the report now of Knocknagree-Clyda and seen that they had X amount of players scoring, I’d be scratching my head going, ‘Who do we have to pinpoint here for the next day?’,” he said.
“That does give a few headaches to the opposition. I am glad it is on my team that we have those options.”
And Egan credits the club’s U19 team with contributing strongly to that level of depth available to the management.
“When we took over in 2020, if we had the same kind of situation back then as we did now, we would have been very disjointed,” he said.
“We have an U19 team there that is coming along and there must be eight or nine of them on our panel. We wouldn’t have had them a couple of years ago, we would not have been able to do what we have been doing the last four weeks but because we have them, it has given them great game-time, as well.
“You are down your hurlers and you are down your juniors, so you are giving your U19s games. We went to one game and we had only 16, so you can get disjointed, but if you are prepared for that and willing to get over that hurdle and not make it an excuse or obstacle, then you keep going.
“That’s what we are doing and that’s what it is going to be like for the next couple of weeks.”