BY DENIS HURLEY
GIVEN the presence of so many strong footballing clubs at the outset of the Rowa-Rowex Carbery JAFC, it’s hardly surprising that Kilbrittain weren’t considered contenders.
A natural inclination towards hurling, as well as the fact that they were only in their first year back in the grade after winning last year’s county junior B title, meant that few if any considered them capable of reaching the final.
Wins over Dohenys, Barryroe and St Mary’s have brought them to Sunday’s decider against Kilmacabea, though. Kilbrittain’s captain is David Desmond, who has been winning medals in black and amber since a Sciath na Scol hurling final against Dungourney in Páirc Uí Rinn in 1997, when he scored a goal in a 2-1 to 0-1 victory.
He admits that Kilbrittain were seen as outsiders, but then momentum began to build.
‘At the start of the year, there were no major aims,’ he says.
‘All we wanted to do was to put in a performance and do well at junior A. The first game was against Dohenys in Newcestown and we played reasonably well.
‘We put a good score and won well, which was surprising as Dohenys usually put up a tough challenge.
‘There was some good football played and then, there was such a long lay-off after the first round of the hurling, we had more of a chance to play football. There were more league games and we had a full squad nearly every game.
‘That’s a big thing that has stood to us going through the championship.’
The junior B win last year, achieved with a win over Cobh in the final, proved right the decision to re-grade from junior A and has proven to be a springboard for Kilbrittain’s improvement as this year has gone on.
‘It was a massive help to us going forward,’ Desmond says.
‘At junior A level, we weren’t getting many games, there was the hurling obviously and we just weren’t training.
‘Being relegated gave us extra games and more chance to play football. That was basically it, really.
‘The league format is after changing in the junior this year, so we were playing a lot more games. We played a few challenge games too, so we just had plenty of time to play football.’
That time looked to be running out in Timoleague on August 6th, as St Mary’s led Kilbrittain by 2-11 to 0-12 in the semi-final as the clock pushed past the 60-mark. Desmond thought that that it was all over, but reckoned without the indomitable spirit of his team-mates.
‘We were down five points,’ he says, ‘I was on the line at that stage, I was gone off with an injury.
‘I thought it was gone, honestly thought it was all over. There was a never-say-die attitude among the lads though, in fairness. They tore into it and never gave up, the forwards were back defending and the backs were up attacking – Owen Sexton was playing wing-back and he was in the full-forward line for the winning goal!’
It will be just as hard to turn over Kilmacabea, who will be seeking to go one better than last year’s final defeat to Gabriel Rangers. Given what happened against Mary’s, though, nobody in the Kilbrittain camp will be giving up before the final whistle.
‘Definitely not,’ Desmond says, ‘we have nothing to lose at this stage.
‘We’ll keep going until the end. We’ll give it the 60, we’ll do our best and that’s all we can do, we’ll see where that takes us.’