WHILE their county championship campaign may have ended disappointingly, Kilmacabea can still look back on the 2017 season with satisfaction and manager Kevin O’Driscoll is optimistic that they will bounce back next year.
The Leap side’s loss to Erin’s Own in Saturday’s county JAFC semi-final replay in Brinny need not overshadow a year in which the club became West Cork kingpins for the first time, marking the pinnable of a very consistent period.
‘When we won the Carbery title in September, it was magnificent,’ O’Driscoll said.
‘You could see in people’s faces what it meant, there was a huge outpouring of joy, it was magnificent.
‘Things are still a bit raw after Saturday, if you were beaten because you were out of your depth then fair enough but we felt that we had a good chance to add the county to the West Cork.
‘Another way of looking at it though is that we have played 19 championship games over the last three years and we’ve only lost three times. Bandon beat us and Gabriel Rangers beat us, both of them are intermediate now and I wouldn’t be surprised if Erin’s Own were to go up as well because they’re a big, strong physical team.
‘Basically, it came down to the fact that we couldn’t win our own kickout in the last eight minutes and they took advantage. The year as a whole was very enjoyable and I think people will realise that when we sit down and look back at it around Christmas.’
Much like the drawn encounter against the Glounthaune side, O’Driscoll felt that Sunday’s match was a game Kilmac could have won.
‘We were very good in the first 15 minutes,’ he said, ‘but then we gave away a silly goal and they got two points straight after that.
‘Even then, we were only two points down after playing against the wind and we were very good again at the start of the second half. Then, there was a ball turned over, they got a point and pushed up on us for the kickout, meaning we had to go long.
‘They have a lot of big men whereas we wouldn’t be the tallest and it was difficult to get possession so they took advantage.’
The bottom line though is that Kilmacabea will begin next year’s Carbery championship as favourites, with a considerable monkey off their backs.
‘There’s no reason for us not to be competitive,’ O’Driscoll says.
‘There’s a strong streak in the lads and, now that they’ve tasted success, they won’t want to give up.
‘Definitely, it’s a weight off to be able to say we’re champions. Every game for the last few years, there was a lot of pressure on the players and management and we were definitely getting sick of being described as the 2015 runners-up.
‘It can’t be said anymore that we’ve never won it.’
There won’t be much time for Kilmac to be licking their wounds, as they are due to clash with St James’s in the Carbery-Beara JFL Division 1 final on Sunday. O’Driscoll feels that the game will be welcomed.
‘We’ll be playing at the same time as the county final, but that’s the way of it, best of luck to Erin’s Own and Knocknagree,’ he says.
‘We’ll be focused on Ardfield, it’s a good chance to blow off the cobwebs and we’ve only won the league twice before so we’ll certainly be going all out to win it.
‘When I put it up on the WhatsApp group, I got a thumbs-up back from almost all the lads, there are a couple who’ll be away but that can’t be helped. St James’s won’t lie down, so it will be tough but once the ball is thrown in we’ll be up for it!’