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Kilcormac/Killoughey one step away from Leinster final berth

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Kilcormac/Killoughey one step away from Leinster final berth thumbnailPeter Geraghty's return to full fitness has strengthened Kilcormac/Killoughey's hand. OH46-1-21246.jpg

BACK in 2012 when Kilcormac/Killoughey won their first ever Offaly senior hurling title, there was a big sense of taking every game as it came with regard to the Leinster championship. Their first step that year was to navigate past their opponents on Sunday - Mount Leinster Rangers on a typical wet and wintery day up in Carlow.
That was the start of it, they had their Leinster duck broke as they went on to beat teams like Oulart the Ballagh and Thurles Sarsfields on route to an All Ireland final.
Five years on and they are once again dreaming of Leinster success with Mount Leinster Rangers they next team in their way. With the upmost respect for the champions of Offaly, Laois, Westmeath and Carlow, this side of the draw was always going to be a massive chance for a Leinster final spot.
With the champions of Kilkenny, Wexford and Dublin on the other side of the draw, the likes of K/K and Mount Leinster Rangers would have had an extra zip and air of confidence about them after they came out of their respective counties.
Both sides have a strong similarity to the teams that squared up in 2012. The greenness that they may have had in 2012 is well worn at this stage with both having a Leinster title on their roll of honour.
The game will be in O'Connor Park and while it is a ground that K/K have grown to like in their successful years, manager Stephen Byrne commented after their win over Castletown Geoghegan that home advantage loses some of its benefit when it comes to Winter hurling.
"It's good to have a home venue and we have been lucky in that department, but then, back in 2014 we had to do a bit of travelling. We're lucky to get it, but as Castletown Geoghegan proved today (last Sunday week), home venues don't mean anything, when the weather starts to get that little bit softer, a little bit worse."
While the lure of a Leinster final can be hard to ignore, Byrne is under no illusions about the challenge that lies in store on Sunday.
"They're a serious outfit. They've played in a club All Ireland, we played them in 2012 and similar to ourselves, they probably have a good bit of the squad that they had back then. That'll be a serious battle no doubt about."
Ciaran Slevin and Cillian Kiely are vital for the Offaly champions. They have forged an important and impressive midfield pairing and their displays in the second half of their win over Castletown Geoghegan really drove them on when they were reduced to 14 men.
Up front, K/K have plenty of match winners. James Gorman fired over three points from play before been called ashore the last day while Dan Currams, although quieter than usual, showed his eye for goal with their second goal in that game with Castletown Geoghegan two weeks ago.
Peter Geraghty broke a finger in the County final but the five week break between their win over St Rynagh's and the game with Castletown Geoghegan was music to his ears and he was fit enough to make a contribution from the bench. Two weeks on and he should be further down the line and able to make more of an impact.
Currams has had an excellent year. He has gone between midfield and the forward line throughout their campaign in Offaly but his display and presence in the County final was a major factor to them getting over the line.
Ger Healion and Damien Kilmartin will anchor the defence while Enda Grogan and Jordan Quinn have impressed on the flanks. In Denis Murphy and Chris Nolan, Mount Leinster Rangers have two in form sharp shooters and they pucked 10 points between them in their quarter final win over Camross.
With the three Coady's also in their ranks, they have quality all over the field and will also feel that they have a glorious opportunity at getting back to another Leinster final.
In truth, it's hard to argue with the logic that it is a 50/50 game. Both have a win behind them; have confidence in their ability while also not fearing the other.
Verdict: Kilcormac/Killoughey.

 

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