KANTURK attempt to spoil the remarkable record of two players in the Rathmore team in their Munster Club IFC semi-final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday at 1pm.
It’s been some 2022 for centre-back Paul Murphy and goalkeeper-turned-corner-forward Shane Ryan who’ve already had more than their fill of success.
Both were part of the Kerry side, which defeated Galway in the All-Ireland final, Murphy at right half-back and Ryan between the posts though he wears number 15 for his club.
On top of that the pair guided East Kerry to the county senior title, Ryan wearing the keeper’s jersey that day, and they also tasted success with their club in the county intermediate decider, Rathmore squeezing past An Ghaeltacht by 1-13 to 0-14.
Rathmore were senior from 1999 to 2019, when they were relegated, but they’re back among the elite next season. They’re rightly installed as one of the fancied teams for Munster and All-Ireland glory at intermediate level.
And in the same category fall the Clifford brothers, David and Paudie, who starred for Kerry and East Kerry and have also helped their club Fossa to a Munster junior semi-final against Limerick’s Castlemahon also on Saturday.
The same day new Cork junior champions Kilmurry make an historic first appearance at provincial level against Thurles Sarsfields in Templetuohy.
Rathmore are captained by midfielder Mark Ryan, whose brother Cathal, a Kerry U20, joins forces in the critical centre-field area.
Mark spoke to Radio Kerry during the week about the challenge confronting his Rathmore side.
At one stage against An Ghaeltacht, Rathmore swept seven points clear, but were left hanging on at the end.
“There were parts of that second-half we couldn’t be happy with though you’d have to credit An Ghaeltacht for that because they’re a superb outfit and came back to within a point of us.
“I thought we let ourselves go a small bit and let them back into the game which means we have a lot to improve for Kanturk.
“We can’t look beyond Saturday because it has to be one game at a time, something we’ve done all season. It was the same with Laune Rangers, Beaufort and An Ghaeltacht and you just can’t look beyond the next game.”
Rathmore, according to the skipper, are relishing the prospect of playing on the pristine pitch at Cork headquarters.
“It’s a fantastic stadium and we’re delighted to be playing there. I don’t think any of us have ever played there and it’s probably the second-best surface in the country behind Croke Park.”
Regardless of the outcome, though, Rathmore have achieved their primary aim of returning to senior ranks in 2023 and Ryan’s comments will resonate with those clubs who’ve suffered the pain of relegation.
“We had a big job to get back up senior. It took us longer than we thought especially as people were saying we’d rebound immediately.
“But we certainly learned a lot early on that it was going to be much tougher than we had imagined and it took us three years to do it.
“I thought we got to grips with it this year, settled down to the task and there was a certain changing of the guard, too, with younger fellows coming through.
“Some of the older players moved on and I thought we got the balance right this year. It was pure euphoria at the final whistle.
“That win is certainly up there with the best. I won with the Kerry minors but there’s nothing to match winning with your own club,” Ryan concluded.