Sunday 18 March 2018

Community news: Kanturk

Timmy Lynch

Months of bountiful memories for Kanturk climaxed with a dramatic All Ireland Intermediate Hurling Championship title in Croke Park last Sunday.

Excitement, thrills and passion served up a heavyweight contest before Kanturk shaded Kilkenny's Ballyragget in a truly absorbing final.

With the fare ebbing and flowing either way, Kanturk stunned their opponents with a late winning point from Ian Walsh. This was the stuff that dreams are made of and little wonder that joyous hordes of supporters took a huge sense of satisfaction on coming out late in the Duhallow capital on Sunday night with a rousing parade.

The Newmarket Pipe Band added to the occasion as did fireworks and a party atmosphere.

Team captain Lorcan O'Neill led his team mates through crowded streets to a formal reception in the Edel Quinn Hall. He explained that all involved were keen to return to Kanturk but formalties and a delayed start to the big game saw the timetable altered.

"It means so much for us to bring the Cup back to Kanturk and say thanks to the massive support in Croke Park. People outside the county often enquire on the whereabouts of Kanturk, on Google maps there appears to be a green mist over the town - I know the reason, the flares and fireworks," he said to loud approval.

"Kanturk came to Croke Park today and after taking the All Ireland silverware everybody knows our whereabouts. It's a fantastic feeling to land All Ireland honours, it's been a collective panel and management effort", said Lorcan.

Club chairman Tom O'Callaghan concurred to warmly applaud players and managements completing a hectic schedule over the past 10 months - going 16 championship games without defeat in football and hurling.

"Kanturk and Ballyragget lived up to the traditional Cork and Kilkenny clashes. I predicted a ferocious battle thus maintaining the great traditions between the two counties before we pulled it off. Thanks to our supporters in the Hogan Stand, the noise levels encouraged the team to sway the outcome," said Tom.

Kanturk natives from all over the country and many parts of the world  had travelled to Dublin in support of the team.  The hectic weekend commenced with an electric 'Up for the Match' special in the Edel Quinn Hall. 

The celebrations continue to Friday, February 16 with the Kanturk GAA Victory Dinner Dance in the Killarney Oaks Hotel, a must for all Kanturk supporters.

The impossible dream is no longer a dream

The dream is no longer a dream, and with the chant of 'Figo, Figo, Figo' Kanturk supporters witnessed team captain Lorcan O'Neill climbs the steps of the Hogan Stand of Croke Park to receive the cup from Aogan O Fearghail, Uachtaran of Cumann Luthchleas Gael, and be crowned All Ireland Intermediate Hurling Champions 2018.

The dream began 12 months ago and came to a glorious end when the final whistle was blown by referee Johnny Murphy. The unreal became reality and showed that a small club from Duhallow could battle the odds and become All Ireland champions.

All of this would not be possible without commitment, dedication and a lot of talent and now we in Kanturk know that we have these in abundance. A talented group of players who were to give a commitment to the effort, a backroom team who were prepared to go all the way with the players and, of course, a leader is always needed and we had that in Coach Donagh Duane.

The players did what was asked of them, the proud Kanturk supporters were there to drive things on and the journey began.

First up was the county championship, which Kanturk navigated and found themselves in a county final against their nearest neighbours, Mallow. In a cracking encounter Kanturk came out on top.

Next was a Munster campaign, which was a bonus after the county title, and once again the team dug deep and achieved a Munster title when they defeated the Clare champions in a wonderful encounter in Limerick.

Next up was a trip to London, and then to Kildare, where they cemented a final berth against Ballyragget. The build-up for the final brought out the best in the loyal community of Kanturk. The exodus of supporters started on Friday and by Sunday there was a gathering of Kanturk people and friends massing around Croke Park to make sure that the team would have the best support possible on the greatest day in the history of Kanturk GAA Club.

When the final whistle blew it was time to get ready for the homecoming for the heroes. A Garda escort to see the team out of Dublin and again into Kanturk, a firework in the sky was the signal for the start of celebrations that are still ongoing.

The team were paraded to the Edel Quinn Hall, led by Newmarket Pipe Band and followed by the huge crowd that gathered to greet the team. When the crowd was settled in the hall the team, panel, and mentors were introduced to the delirious crowd who showed their appreciation for all the huge effort put in by this amazing group of young people and mentors.

The song 'Kanturk My Home Town' - written by Peter O'Neill, father of team captain Lorcan - was sung and then the crowd and players adjourned to their favourite hostelry to continue the historic events of the day.

The journey was a voyage of discovery that took everyone through a variety of emotions that may never again be repeated.

Victory social

With two Cork county championships, a Munster and an All Ireland title to boot, Kanturk GAA will celebrate their success on Friday 16th February at the Killarney Oaks Hotel at 7pm.

Details of ticket sales will be announced on social media over the coming days.

Juvenile GAA Registration: Kanturk Juvenile GAA will have a registration night for all players, mentors and officers and committee on Monday 12th February at the GAA clubrooms 6.30pm to 7.30pm.