THERE’LL be no prouder footballer than Killian O’Hanlon, when he leads out Kilshannig in the final of the Bon Secours county IAFC against Aghabullogue at Pairc Ui Chaoimh on the 23rd.
In one respect it will complete the challenging journey back from a cruciate knee ligament injury suffered in April of last year which forced him to miss two inter-county seasons with Cork.
Typically, there is little straight-forward on attempting to return from this kind of injury curse because further complications arise with muscle and soft tissue problems a further burden.
O’Hanlon’s influence was prominent once more in his side’s emphatic 2-15 to 0-9 semi-final win over Mitchelstown at the weekend and now Kilshannig are bidding to add to the 2019 county junior title following their success against St James.
“This was my fourth football game in the championship and the same in the hurling, having played two or three league games in the spring, too,” he said afterwards.
Relief was an obvious feeling for the dynamic midfielder, whose power and surging runs reflect what Kilshannig bring to the table.
“I had a fair share of injuries coming back, the likes of quads and that kind of stuff, which kept me out for another spell.
“It takes time and you kind of underestimate the sharpness needed, when you do get a run of games.
“It was a struggle, no doubt, and frustrating, but there are plenty who’ve been there before me. You just keep the head down because it could break you, especially picking up more injuries.
“It certainly hasn’t been straight forward and at one stage I was thinking ‘am I going to have to write off this year, as well?’
“It’s been 18 months or thereabouts since the injury and I’m just happy to be playing regularly once more.”
O’Hanlon hasn’t been the only Kilshannig player to suffer because the club has been crippled with a length-of-the-arm injury list in the past three seasons.
“We used something like 38-39 players during the year because we were decimated with injuries in the spring.
“This was our first time having a full selection available to us since 2019. We had two cruciates last year, apart from myself, and Colm O’Shea was also out.
O’Hanlon won the toss and decided to play against the howling wind in Fermoy, a good choice as they led by 1-9 to 0-4 at the break.
“It went against a recent trend of starting slowly in games, when we were very sloppy, and I had a chat with management beforehand about what we should do.
“We agreed that we’d chance it by playing against the wind, try and keep it tight early on, but we went out and did the opposite.
“It suited us because we’ve a lot of strong runners through the middle with good hands, so it fell our way a bit. We were able to open them up that way instead of trying to go long with the wind. It worked out well.”
O’Hanlon bagged their opening goal in the 10th minute. “That typified our approach, working the ball through the hands and keeping it simple.
“I was delighted and relieved to finish it this time after missing one in a similar situation in the last game.
“We knew there would be a fight in Mitchelstown in the second-half because we could hear them next door.
“It was important for us not to do anything stupid especially as we missed two goal chances at the start of the second-half to kill the game.
“We weathered it well and then did even better by closing off the game. We were definitely mindful of what happened last year and it was certainly in the back of my head.”
Next up is the North Cork junior hurling final against Liscarroll/Churchtown Gaels, Kilshannig searching for their first title and another possible county chase.