HAVING won the Avondhu JAHC last Sunday, Kilshannig will look look to maintain their momentum this weekend.
Winners against Liscarroll/Churchtown Gaels in the divisional decider, they take on Aghabullogue in the Bons Secours Hospital Cork IAFC final in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday (2pm).
Before this year, the county junior A football champions in 2019 had won all three of their group games in the IAFC in 2020 and 2021. In the current campaign, they began with victory over Ballydesmond but then lost their second match to Adrigole.
It left them facing Gabriel Rangers in a must-win final game in Kilmichael, while they were in a similar situation ahead of their final group game in the North Cork hurling championship, against Buttevant. One of Kilshanning’s stars is Cork senior footballer Killian O’Hanlon and he feels that those two wins served to get their season firing.
“We had lost the previous game against Adrigole and we had lost a North Cork hurling championship game,” he says.
“We were going into our last group games in both needing wins and we won both of them and kicked on then.
“For the last few weeks, we’ve been going week on week but there’s momentum when you’re going well, one feeds off the other.”
Having come up from the junior ranks as the championship was restructured for 2020 with the introduction of group stages, Kilshannig have showed themselves to be well able to compete at the higher grade.
“At home, there was probably an expectation around this group of players,” O’Hanlon says.
“We’d be an ambitious group but I suppose we were lucky in 2019 in that it was the first year we won Avondhu for a few seasons.
“We won our three games that year – we actually played Aghabullogue in our second match, that was a close one.
“We won the other two games well enough but then we lost to Glanworth in the quarter-finals, we only had ourselves to blame there.
“Last year, we won all of our group games again and made it to the semi-final against Mitchelstown. We were going well and we were up six or seven points with ten minutes left but ended up losing it.
“We did have a few injuries last year but we still thought that we’d be competitive. This year then turned out the opposite in that we barely got through the group stage and we were within a couple of minutes of going out against Gabriels.
“With time up, we were down a point but we got two points to win it. That proved to be a turning point and we kicked on from there, to be fair.”
A member of the Cork panel since 2016, 29-year-old O’Hanlon is naturally a key man for his club side but he feels that there is a good spread of quality in the squad.
“To be fair, we’ve a few lads who have experience of playing with Cork at underage levels,” he says.
“A lot of them have stepped up too. I’d probably be guilty of putting too much pressure on myself at times but we have a very good squad, to be fair.”
Two years ago, Kilshannig played Aghabullogue in the group stages and won by 0-10 to 0-7, with O’Hanlon’s brother Éanna scoring four points while Kieran Twomey also impressed.
This time around, the Coachford side have a perfect record, beating Dromtarriffe, St Finbarr’s and Ballinora to top their group. Kildorrery and then Boherbue have been seen off by Aghabullogue in the knockout stages and O’Hanlon knows that a massive challenge awaits the men in blue and gold on Sunday.
“Definitely,” he says.
“To be fair, they’re the number-one seed and they haven’t lost any games.
“They’ve put up a couple of big scores and they’ll be tough to beat but we’re hopeful of putting in a good performance.”