AFTER many years in the wilderness, Kilshannig’s 2019 Cork JAFC County success was seen as a huge turning point for the Avondhu team.
Three years on, they recently claimed the Cork IAFC title, beating Aghabullogue rather easily in the end, 1-16 to 0-10 in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Kilshannig are a proud GAA club nestled in North Cork, they were once a senior club and after falling on hard times, they have awoken from their slumber in recent years, with a really good underage structure put in place a decade ago now bearing fruit.
The 1996-2002 age groups have been to the forefront for the clubs upturn in fortunes in both codes following numerous underage trophies.
The team in blue and yellow have been well represented at intercounty level in recent years, with Ciarán O’Sullivan a key player for Kilshannig footballers this year, contributing for the Cork U20 footballers last year and was the hero for the Rebels with the winning point against Kerry in the Munster semi-final.
O’Sullivan has continued his good form into 2022, forming a formidable midfield partnership with Cork senior footballer Killian O’Hanlon.
The 20-year-old from Glantane, already in his third season in adult football, is naturally delighted to have played a part in bringing a second adult county cup back to Glantane in just three years.
“It’s a brilliant feeling to be a county champion, there was a great buzz after the final and even a couple of weeks on, there is still a positive vibe in the parish.
"We have put in a huge amount of work, not just this season, but since 2020. There is a nice balance within the group of experience and youth, and we are all just driving each other on.
"I suppose we were confident of winning the county, but we certainly didn’t take it for granted. The older lads like Killian O’Hanlon are a real inspiration for all of us young lads, and there are quite a few in the team.
"Personally, I have learnt so much from Killian since I joined up with the first-team.”
As well as being a good football team, Kilshannig’s physique and size also played a part in this season’s memorable campaign.
Despite being one of youngest teams in the IAFC grade, Kilshannig showed no signs of nerves on county final day, backed by a huge vocal support, a good start and a strong finish resulted in a nine-point win.
Aghabullogue were one of the top scorers in the championship prior to the final, so what was the key ingredient in restricting them to just ten points?
“We saw video footage of Aghabullogue’s semi-final win over Boherbue, they were on fire that day.
"They scored four goals, and they could have easily had seven or eight. They have quality forwards, so we knew having a good defensive structure was key in the final, we didn’t move away from our way of playing, but we did tweak a few things.
"At the end of the day, the management puts faith in every player to beat their own marker, thankfully the plan worked, and we got the job done. It was a real team performance, everything just clicked.”
Kilshannig are a club on the up, after so long in junior A, they probably thought they would be stuck there forever, but thanks to a good underage structure put in place a decade ago, the Avondhu team are now a force to be reckoned with, and after junior A and intermediate A titles in a space of three years, the next aim is senior football.
“I can remember being a small boy going to all the junior games supporting the club, and there was very little to write home about.
"The success at underage level is now translating into adult success which is absolutely brilliant. We have a really dedicated bunch of lads.
"I’ll never forget seeing Páirc Uí Rinn full in 2019 and then to win the county, it gave me goosebumps and a huge determination to do well and thankfully I was brought into the team in 2020 and I am really happy with my own performances since then.
"The goal in the coming years is clear, to reach senior football, I would be lying if I said it wasn’t. We were a senior club in the early 1990’s and we want to be a senior club again.”