KILDORRERY'S prolific score-getter Peter O'Brien made another massive contribution to the win over Butlerstown, despite nursing a hamstring injury going into the match. While he would have been bitterly disappointed to have missed the game, O'Brien said he wouldn't have lined out if he didn't think he was right, making the point that Kildorrery aren't lacking strength-in-depth.
"I was there or thereabouts in terms of fitness to be fair, but we have a good panel, and we've had to cope with injuries all year, so we are never too worried about what fifteen players we put out at this stage. All the lads are very committed, and we put in a lot of work since winning the county, because we knew we'd have to be on top of our game coming down here to play Butlerstown on their home patch.
"We found it tough enough in the first half, but we got a goal early in the second half, and Butlerstown seemed to drop their heads a bit after that whereas we kicked on."
O'Brien agreed that Kildorrery's overall performance left little to be desired, adding that to clock up such a big tally in the prevailing conditions was particularly pleasing.
"It was hard going in the wind and the rain out there, and we're absolutely delighted with the win. It's great for the club to get through to a Munster final, and it's also great for the fans, who came down here in numbers today. There's going to be a tremendous buzz in the village leading up to Christmas, everybody is going to be talking about the game, and hopefully we will have further reason to celebrate after the final down in Mallow in three weeks time." IT couldn't have worked out any better for Kildorrery, and they will take a lot of positives from the manner of the victory over Butlerstown, according to team mentor Pat Fenton. Admitting he didn't know what to expect from the Waterford champions, Fenton said they put it up to Kildorrery for most of the first half, and they made a promising start as well in the second half.
"We had a shaky five minutes after half time, but we weathered the storm, and once we got going again we just drove on from there. It wasn't as easy as the final scoreline suggests, you would have to say we had to earn every score, but the fact that we got nothing soft from Butlerstown, and that we still put 4-19 on the board was very encouraging," Fenton remarked.
Stressing that he couldn't have expected any more from the players, Fenton said it was a bonus to be able to give five substitutes a run in the closing stages.
"Those fellas put in as much work as the other fifteen or sixteen, so it was great that we had the chance to use them today, and we couldn't be happier with the way everything worked out.
"We'll take a few days rest now, and we probably won't get the lads together again until next Friday night. We are thinking about going away to some place on Saturday to do a bit of bonding, and it will be just general training after that before the Munster final on December 9."
Fenton revealed that Michael Lillis, who picked up a shoulder injury in the county final replay a few weeks ago, will be ready for the next game against St Kierans of Limerick at Mallow, and that if Kildorrery get out of Munster, Andrew O'Brien, their regular centre back last year, will rejoin the panel for the All-Ireland campaign in the New Year.
"Michael was almost ready for today's game, and we would have brought him on if push came to shove, but we decided we wouldn't chance him once we got on top in the second half. Andrew will be back from Australia for good on December 14, and he did a bit of hurling when he was home in August, so he should be in good shape once we get a month's training into him."
Not that Fenton is jumping to gun, and he expects that St Kieran's will prove a major stumbling block to Kildorrery's ambitions in the Munster final. I saw St Kierans in the quarter-final, and they are handy enough.
"They are very strong physically, and they have a powerful centre forward in Limerick senior footballer John McCarthy, but I'd be hopeful we'll have a little too much hurling for them. It's a dream come through for us to be involved in a Munster final, we are early looking forward to it, and it's full steam ahead now to December 9."
- NOEL HORGAN