LAST year Dungourney tasted Intermediate success for the first time in the club’s history, and subsequently earned promotion to the Premier Intermediate Championship.
Now in his second season as club captain, Dylan Healy believes that the only way is up for the East Cork club.
“Going up the grade, you obviously don’t want to go straight back down, but it is great to be up there,” says Dylan.
“We’ll try to compete, and we will do our best.
There’s savage work going on in the club at the moment with new dressing rooms.
“There’s also a new walkway coming in, and we’ve got a gym recently, and a state-of-the-art ball alley. The club is progressing, hopefully we can keep improving as a team.”
Reflecting on their triumph last year, he obviously enjoyed his first season as captain under Martin Dennehy.
“It was unreal to be fair,” he begins. “I know it’s the cliché, but we took it one game at a time. We played Douglas first, and we beat them well and put up a big score.
“We had Cloughduv second, and we kind of knew with Cloughduv since they were the top seed in the grade the last year that it was going to be hard.
“We ended up losing by two. After that game then it was winner take all against Aghabullogue. We came out of that with a good performance, and that was our first year getting out of the group stages since they came in,” says Healy.
“We scraped past Midleton then, we didn’t put in a great performance. I think we were like 3/1 to beat Sars [in the semi-final] with the bookies, so that was added motivation for us.
“We had a good start, put the foot down, I think we were 9 or 10 points up at one stage, and then we were only a few points up at half time.
“We played with the wind in the first half, so they came back at us, but we managed to grind it out and get the win.
“Then with Cloughduv, we knew after losing to them already in the group we’d be coming into it as underdogs, and last year they were a fairly good side, some of their forwards were unreal.”
After their six-point victory over Cloughduv, Dennehy stepped down and was replaced by Alan Kelleher, who had been a selector for three years prior to that.
Club chairman Declan O’Callaghan discusses the change in management and reaffirms his confidence in Dungourney’s coaching staff.
“We’ve a great management team in place. I think they’re looking forward to the challenge, they’re three members of the Dungourney club, and they know the players very well since they were playing underage level, they’re top guys.”
This season it's about staying up.
“Our aim is to be competitive at Premier Intermediate level. The primary aim is to stay there. If we can get a bit of momentum going, who knows,” he says.
“Going up to the Premier Intermediate level is a big challenge for the club. Last year surpassed our expectations in getting to the final and we had a few tough games on the way.
“We’ve momentum with us at the moment and we had a good run in the Championship last year.
“We have a lot of young players, and we’re trying to develop them the whole time. They bring a bit of energy and we’re hoping that will help us throughout the year."
Dungourney have been drawn in a tough Group A with one of the strongest Premier Intermediate sides in Castlelyons, along with seasoned Ballincollig who have been Premier Intermediate since their promotion in 2018. To top it off, former Senior A side Bandon are also in the mix, as they were relegated two seasons ago.
It’s a really challenging group,” says O’Callaghan.
“Castlelyons have gotten to two finals and a semi-final in the last three years, Bandon are a big club, they’ve been Senior before and they’re trying to get back up there.
“Ballincollig have a very young team, I know they’ve three players there on the Cork U20 team with James Dwyer, Tadhg O’Connell, and Brian Keating.
“All three of those games are going to be very tough, and a real challenge for us.”
Though they certainly have a challenging summer ahead, Dylan Healy and his Dungourney teammates will be worth the watch as they continue their rise through the ranks of Cork hurling.