WINNING the county junior championship for a hurling club like Kildorrery could easily be classed as one of those once in a life time events.
The club, which has been operating in its current form since 1949 without ever achieving the status of being the county's representatives now finds itself in the semi-final of a provincial championship for the first time in its history. Now that the goal of beating the best of the rest in county Cork has been achieved the sights have been set much higher. With a trip to Croke Park for an All Ireland final only three wins away the pressure is undoubtedly beginning to mount in the north Cork village.
This Sunday Butlerstown of Waterford will provide the opposition for Kildorrery in the Waterford Institute of Technology GAA complex and the Deise men will be desperate to advance their own national title ambitions at the expense of the Avondhu men. What can Kildorrery expect? A tough no compromising encounter fast paced encounter. Kildorrery will know they have been in a battle come Sunday afternoon, of that there is no doubt. It should also be a lively encounter on a pitch that tends to be solid and quick.
Fortunately for Kildorrery neither of these two variables should hold any fears for a side that are no strangers to a battle themselves – having seen off Brian Dillons in the county final at the second attempt which came only weeks after playing in one of the games of the season against Kilbrin in the county semi-final. There are many factors which could influence the outcome of this tie but top of these will surely be Peter O'Brien.
The 25 year old has given some wonderful display's this year already and he again will be key if the north Cork men are to progress to what would most certainly be the biggest day in the club's history.
O'Brien may be the main man going into this game but he is definitely not the only factor going to Waterford. The return of Michael Walsh from London has had a terrific influence on this side - with players like the young keeper James McEniry, half back Michael Lillis and half forward Sean Kelly all driving the side forward in the heat of previous battles.
Kelly's influence can't be underestimated so far in 2012 and the number seven will feel right at home next Sunday when he will take to the field with three of his brothers (Liam, David and Niall) in what will be a massive day for the entire Kelly family.
With all the positives Kildorrery have garnered throughout their county championship campaign they have had some disappointments as well. The loss of Tom Monaghan in the county final with a broken leg is a loss that will harm the side's challenge going forward, but with a vast array of youth at their disposal this team seem to be ready to deal with every eventuality. In fact Kildorrery finished the county final with seven under 21 players on the pitch which clearly shows that they have not only strength in depth but they also have a very bright future.
Next Sunday will be a momentous day for Kildorrery – regardless of the result – but the result will be everything to all concerned both inside and outside the wire.
Kildorrery's chances of success? Pretty good one would think. And their chances of winning if they play to the best of their ability? Very good indeed.
With throw in due at 2.00pm in WIT next Sunday the streets of Kildorrey will fall silent for what will be a tense exciting and very special day for village and its people.
- DIARMUID SHEEHAN