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Kilbrittain hurlers looking to peak at the right time

September 16th, 2023 5:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

Kilbrittain hurling manager Jamie Wall.

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SINCE the Co-op SuperStores Cork Premier Junior Hurling Championship came into being – initially known as lower intermediate – the three beaten finalists have been Russell Rovers, Kilbrittain and Tracton.

Both Rovers and Tracton reached RedFM Hurling League finals this year – the Churchtown/Shanagarry side won Division 5 while Tracton were pipped in the Division 6 decider by another Premier JHC side, Ballygarvan. However, that trio all fell in the group stages of the championship.

Ballygarvan lost out to Kilbrittain in what was a winner-take-all tie in Brinny last Friday week and it means that Kilbrittain are the only club to have reached the knockout stages in each of the four years in which the grade has been run. They take on Glen Rovers in a quarter-final this Sunday in Ovens (2pm).

The absence of the high-profile trio means that everybody left senses a chance of glory, including Kilbrittain manager Jamie Wall – but he knows how fine the margins are.

‘That’s the beauty of the 12-team grades,’ he says.

‘There’s not a huge gap between the top and bottom and it only takes a point or two to go in a different direction.

‘In our grade, two of the beaten county finalists have been in relegation trouble the following year – we’re the exception and I’m not saying that we’re great but just that the gap in a 12-team grade is nothing.

‘You look at Courcey Rovers, senior A finalists last year and battling for their lives to avoid relegation. They did that by beating Newcestown – but Newcestown will feel that if they can bounce back they could make a county semi-final and final. It’s the same in our grade. Barryroe hadn’t got out of the group the last three years and this time they’re the only ones to win all three group matches and now they’re in the semi-finals. There’s very little between all the teams.’

While Kilbrittain began with a win over Milford, defeat to Barryroe left them with their backs against the wall going into the Ballygarvan game. Having come over that, the hope now is that momentum can continue to build.

‘We’ve probably learned that lesson the hard way over the last few years,’ Wall said, ‘where we’ve started like a train and then petered out as the year has gone on.

‘Of course, there are no guarantees that it goes the other way now – I rather that we just played well all the time! If you had to pick a time to be coming into form, you’d be saying that the knockouts is the time for that.

‘Ballygarvan was our best performance so far but we’ll have to be better to beat the Glen. That’s the case with every game – if you get to a semi-final, you have to better again and the same if you get to a final. As you go on, the competition gets harder.

‘Anyone you play now is in a similar position to you in that they’ll have won two or three games. Your performance has to keep going up but, if it does, you’d be saying that that’s a nice trajectory to be on.’

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