Stephen Coy was a very proud man following Kilmore’s superb comeback last Saturday in Strokestown: “What a battle that was. These Kilmore lads have so much heart and we saw it again today. We talked all week about not living on history but they dug so deep again today and we saw it through in the end. They are just an incredible bunch.”
Kilmore’s reputation as a dogged, fiercely determined team who just refuse to accept defeat was underlined once again in Strokestown last Saturday as they came back from the dead at least twice to win the intermediate title in an extraordinary replay that required two periods of extra-time to separate these two excellent teams.
To try to sum up this thrilling roller coaster of a match in just a few paragraphs is very difficult such was the number of incidents that we witnessed. Oran were eight points up after nine minutes. Kilmore came back to reduce the lead to three at half-time. Oran still led by two points as the game slipped into injury-time but the never-say-die attitude of Kilmore kicked in once again. They engineered two frees to level the scores and they pulled away in extra-time.
To add to all that there were four straight red cards – two to each side – shown after a melee broke out in the 7th minute of the second period of extra-time. There were also four black cards shown (two to each side) and four yellow cards for good measure shown by referee Damien Wallace and despite all that it was never a dirty game but it was intensely fought all the way through.
You have to marvel at the spirit and determination of this Kilmore side and they deserved their win in the end, but one could only have sympathy for Oran who played some brilliant football over two and a half games but who returned home empty-handed.
Kilmore had heroes all over the field: Jack Sharkey, Colm Garvey in defence, veteran Dermot Foley was superb at midfield. Gary Connellan, who played his best game this year for the club, Derek Connellan, Dara Feely and Paul Garvey who scored 1-8 in a man of the match display.
Kilmore’s Dermot Foley was breathless in the aftermath: “That second half was a huge struggle and we needed that last free from Paul (Garvey) to get us out of jail. It was a full team effort and we are just thrilled to win this title. We have a great tradition here in Kilmore of being hard to beat and long may it continue.”
Take nothing away from Kilmore but the loss of Matthew Whyte for a harsh looking black card after 22 minutes was a serious one for Oran. Nevertheless, Cathal Kenny, Jack Casey, Thomas Fetherston, Adrian Cassidy, Paul Kenny, Gearoid Keenan and Ciaran Whyte battled manfully all through and they will wonder long into the winter just how they managed to lose this replay when they led by two points going into injury-time.
For Kilmore, this was a tremendous victory. They simply refused to lie down and the word defeat just is not part of their vocabulary. The fact that this victory was achieved just a few hours before one of their finest, Frank Dennehy, went to his eternal reward, was remarkable. He certainly would have approved.
The refusal of the Connacht Council to grant a postponement of their Connacht IFC game on Sunday would have been a disgrace even before the sad passing of Frank Dennehy. That topic is covered in more detail elsewhere this week in the paper but Kilmore will look back on this Intermediate Football Championship with justifiable pride and much satisfaction.
For Oran, they will have to regroup and come again and they have plenty of talented young players to do that. This just wasn’t their day.