KANTURK’S immediate reward for capturing the Bon Secours county PIFC title following their 3-11 to 1-10 win over Bantry Blues at Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Sunday is a place in the Munster Club Championship against Clare’s Kildysart on November 13 at 1.15.
The newly crowned Cork champions hit the road for the first-round game with the prize of a home semi-final against the Kerry champions on offer for the Duhallow club.
Yet, Kanturk are soaking in the enormity of their achievement, which came at the third time of asking following heart-wrenching defeats in the previous two finals against local rivals, Knocknagree and Newmarket.
“We won’t worry about that journey for a while yet,” captain Aidan Walsh declared after the game.
“We drowned our sorrows in the last two years, but now it’s all smiles. We’ll go back training in the middle of next week and see what happens after that. For now, though, we will celebrate with a few pints.”
Still, it will revive memories of their epic 2017-18 campaign in intermediate hurling, when Kanturk swept through Munster en route to winning the All-Ireland.
“I remember beating Mallow in hurling in 2017 and it was pure elation at the time.
“We didn’t take much notice of Munster until we won our first-round game and the whole thing took off after that.” Relief was the main emotion after eventually erasing the haunting feeling of back-to-back county final losses.
“We definitely got a performance and yet I still didn’t think we played to our full potential. At times we were a bit sloppy and rushed things a bit in the final third, particularly.
Both Kanturk and Bantry carried major goal threats, registering nine and 10 respectively en route to the final “We always believed that if Bantry came at us we could got back at them because we have a scoring threat, especially goals. We just needed to convert the chances that came our way.
“It’s frustrating, when you work so hard to get the ball into the forward line and fellows aren’t just finishing. Someone said we kicked 14 wides and that’s obviously disappointing.
“Our game is about off the shoulder running and it’s very hard to keep that going for the full 60 minutes, but the main thing is we won. That’s what it’s all about.”
Walsh was one of the goal-scorers, making it three in total, the same number as his cousins Alan and Ryan Walsh with Grantus Bucinskas chipping in with a couple and Lorcan McLoughlin completing the dozen with the third goal.
That came at the three-quarter mark and pushed Kanturk two goals ahead, but Aidan still wasn’t certain of climbing the steps to receive the Billy Long Cup.
“We knew going into the game that Bantry are a team capable of scoring goals and it was a credit to our backs that they only got one on this occasion.
“I know they had one or two other chances, but they averaged three goals a game in the championship, so fair play to our defenders, who are just great. They stood up just as they’ve done in other years.”
Ian Walsh, brother of Alan and Ryan, finished the championship as the team’s leading scorer with 0-21, 10f, three more than another sibling, Colin, while midfielder Paul won the Man-of-the-Match award.
And to continue the theme, Aidan’s younger brother, Tommy, made his debut in an adult county final.
“We’re recognised as a big, strong team, but we’re also lucky to have a nice mix of players through the ages, fellows 32-33 and all the way down to 19-year-olds.
“What’s great as well is that they’re powerful players, too, and the great thing about this win is that we can call ourselves a dual senior club,” Aidan concluded.