Improved scoring returns can fire Kilbrittain into final

November 5th, 2021 3:40 PM

By Kieran McCarthy

Kilbrittain hurling manager Jamie Wall.

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JAMIE Wall hopes Kilbrittain’s improved firepower can shoot them into the county Lower Intermediate Hurling Championship final.

Wall’s troops head into Saturday’s semi-final against Tracton – in Ballinspittle at 2pm – with the second-best scoring record from the group stage.

Kilbrittain have already scored more in three championship games this campaign than they managed in four matches last season.

On their way to topping Group A this season with a 100 percent record, and going straight into the semi-final, Kilbrittain racked up 3-63 (0-72). Compare that to their 2021 stats when they scored 2-58 (0-64) over four LIHC games, including the county semi-final loss to Castlemartyr. In Group A, Kilbrittain hit Argideen Rangers with 0-19, hammered Dripsey by scoring 2-24 and followed that up with 1-20 against Grenagh. Add in they also have have the meanest defence in this entire championship – they conceded a measly 0-32 in three group games, Argideen were next in this list with 0-48 conceded in the group stages  – and it’s easy to understand why Wall’s men are in a good place heading into Saturday’s semi-final.

‘Last year, defensively we were quite good. I think we had the lowest score conceded then too, which would say we were quite solid but we know ourselves that we weren’t scoring enough last year to go on and win anything,’ Wall explained.

‘We only scored 0-12 in our first game, only scored 2-11 in the second game and only scored 0-13 in the semi-final when we were beaten. It’s not that those scores won’t win you games but they make it a lot less likely that you will win.

‘The more scoring chances you create and more scores you take, the higher your percentages are, especially with how hurling has gone at the top level; it’s more about getting your shot count up and you have to score heavy to win. Naturally enough that does translate down, though not to the same extent. If you look across the grades in Cork, you will probably see that hurling has become a higher scoring game. Increasing our rate of scoring has been the most pleasing stage of the group stage so far.’

Maurice Sexton (0-21 including 13f, four 65s), Philip Wall (2-11) and Josh O’Donovan (1-8) top the scoring charts, and 12 players have chipped in with scores in this championship run. They’ll need to bring their shooting boots this weekend against a Tracton team that beat Milford 2-13 to 1-12 in a quarter-final on October 23rd, while the Carbery club’s last game was on October 9th against Grenagh. Managing the four-week gap between their matches has been forefront in Wall’s mind.

‘With the nature of this competition and because we qualified straight into a semi-final, we are now taking this as a separate championship,’ the Kilbrittain boss explained.

‘We went into the Grenagh game already qualified and top of the group and we had a fair idea that winning that game would give us that break. We have had a bit of time to think about the next step in the journey so we have been very focussed on this semi-final, which is round one of the new championship. With that type of gap you would have been on a hiding to nothing to stay at that level for that long.

‘I feel it’s been a really long year for everyone, and being aware of that and trying to adjust according to that is important.

‘Mentally, it’s important to keep lads engaged, and part of that is stepping back for a day or two, to give them space when we could.

‘We are now ultra focussed, treating this as a new championship. Phase one is over, now this is phase two.’

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