KEVIN O’Donovan has sounded a rallying cry to his Kilmeen teammates ahead of Saturday’s Cork JAHC quarter-final: this is our biggest-ever game and we must take this chance.
Last Sunday Kilmeen won the South West junior A hurling title for the first time in the club’s history – in what was their first JAHC final appearance – and their reward is a county quarter-final against Kilbrin this Saturday in Cloughduv, at 6pm.
Cork GAA coaching officer O’Donovan (39), in his 24th season playing hurling with Kilbree – the first 14 years at junior B level, the last ten at junior A – has urged his teammates to forget last Sunday’s historic win and instead focus on Saturday’s county quarter-final.
Also, don’t ask O’Donovan if Kilbree are now in bonus territory …
‘I wouldn’t agree at all with the view that we’re now in bonus territory,’ the Kilbree veteran stated.
‘Saturday is the chance of a lifetime and we need to grab it with both hands. I know better than anyone that these chances don’t come around too often.
‘Look at how hard it is for junior teams to come out of West Cork. I have seen teams win the championship in the past but then fail to come out again the year after so that’s why we need to grab Saturday’s quarter-final with both hands and have a right crack off it.
‘Maybe teams suffer from a bit of flatness after winning a first divisional title. The buzz is there for the final and then the next day out isn’t a final but for me this Saturday is a bigger game – it’s the biggest game of our lives.
‘Last week’s final is over, that’s done.
‘You can never assume that you will be back again next season, it never works out like that, all the other teams in West Cork will be rearing to go next year and take us down, so that’s why we need to take our chance and go through the gap as fast as we can.’
O’Donovan will also tell his teammates to have no regrets about this Saturday’s tie with Kilbrin. The celebrations were parked earlier in the week, and Kilbree are raring to go.
‘I have sounded out other clubs who have been here before, after a big first divisional win and a lot of them would have regrets about how they performed in the county series soon after, that those games came a little too soon, so we will be wary of Saturday,’ O’Donovan said.
‘This is a step into the unknown and I’m hopeful that the shackles will come off for our players, that they can play with a little bit of freedom. It’s bound to be a step up in standard and it’s the next place for us to go.’