NIALL Hayes is convinced that Kilmacabea can find another gear this Saturday.
The back-to-back Carbery JAFC champs meet city side Delaneys in a county semi-final in Bandon (4pm) with Kilmacabea determined to go on step further than last year.
Erin’s Own broke Kilmac hearts at this stage in 2017, their first-ever time in the county series, but Hayes has seen enough to know they are capable of raising their game at the business end of this championship.
‘We have another gear to reach, definitely,’ the Kilmacabea captain says.
‘Over the last few games, we’ve played for five minutes here and ten minutes there. We haven’t had a more complete performance, we’ve only played in bits and bobs, maybe 30, 40 minutes overall, so we know there is more in us.
‘There is that extra gear. If we click on the day, it will take a very good team to stop us.’
Delanys, like Kilmacabea, needed a replay to win their quarter-final. Last weekend, Kilmacabea knocked out Boherbue at the second time of asking, while Delanys edged past Ballymartle.
Hayes is expecting a battle.
‘We played Delanys in a challenge game earlier in the year, they are very physical, very fit, and they are very hard to play against because it’s all go. We will have to up it again, find that extra gear we know we have,’ Hayes says.
Kilmacabea are still newbies when it comes to the county series. This is just their second time competing in this championship. But lessons were learned from last year. They are a better team now, Hayes insists.
‘We are a different team to last year, more experienced,’ he says.
‘For the most part this is a young team and last year was a very big learning curve, winning the West Cork for the first time ever, then going into the county for the first time and playing different teams with different styles in new venues. We’re getting better. This team has evolved, improved and we’ve the addition of Daniel O’Donovan, Ian Jennings is another fella who has come through and Damien Gore is almost unmarkable at this stage.’
A sign of how Kilmacabea have found their feet at county level was last weekend’s replay win against a fancied Boherbue. Hayes explains.
‘They were favourites going into the first day. It could have gone either way. We did a lot of homework on them ahead of the replay and we were confident going into it. We pushed on their kick-out, starved them of possession and it looked like we learned more than them from the first day,’ he says.
‘Our work-rate on Saturday was outstanding. They did well on their short kick-outs the first day but in the replay our forwards harassed and harried them when they went short and we had a few turnovers. We never let them settle.
‘The work-rate was huge from start to finish by everyone. To keep a good Boherbue team to nine points in 60 minutes is good going.’
More of the same is needed this Saturday if they want to get to a first county final.