First County Title in 26 years for Knocknagree as Kanturk double up in 2017
It was standing room only in Kanturk and Knocknagree on Sunday night - the scenes of jubilation that followed was easy to understand after the two Duhallow football teams completed a remarkable county double at Pairc Uí Rinn.
It’s now familiar ground for Kanturk, who created a slice of history by recording a double hurling and football triumph in just three weeks.
No wonder their faithful supporters were in full voice following the footballers narrow victory over Mitchelstown.
And favourable weather created a terrific atmosphere for the return to Kanturk, where Newmarket piper Shane Hurley led a parade from outside the Alley Bar.
Team manager Jerome Walsh was more than six feet tall - with three of his sons playing and a nephew captaining the side. “It was a brilliant victory by an exceptional bunch of players, they ‘ve come together in one generation to deliver two county titles and we’re thrilled”, he said.
Team captain Aidan Walsh defied injuries to lead his side up the steps to complete the historic double. “Another unbelieveable win. The hurling success brought confidence into our team, everybody is just delighted to add the second title,” said Aidan.
“Our fitness showed - with the game up for grabs, we finished surperbly and we can look forward to the Munster hurling semi-final in Tralee on Sunday next.”
Meanwhile, bonfires, flag and bunting turned Knocknagree Fairfield into a mardi gras after returning with the Co. Junior Football Championship title for the third occasion.
Cullen piper Con Houlihan had performed at the previous parades in 1984 and 1991, and again the Cullen Pipe Band added to the occasion, as misty eyed supporters showed how much the victory meant to a hotbed of football on the county bounds.
Club chairman Jeremiah Moynihan hailed the input of players and management while manager John Fintan Daly saluted all involved and singled out former coach Seán Walsh for mention.
“We’ve higher ambitions, our team’s average age is 22 and a half years, now is a great time for the club and we plan to take the Munster campaign very serious,” he said.
Team captain Matthew Dilworth acknowledged the contribution of a dedicated management team in addition to the backing of supporters and sponsors.
On a balmy Sunday night in late October, there was time for a song, and player David O’Connor’s composition, ‘Knocknagree Goes to Pairc Uí Rinn’, had the supporters in raptures.
However, it’s a quick return to action for both Kanturk and Knocknagree on this Sunday, when Kanturk travel to Tralee to face Ballyduff in the Munster Club Intermediate Hurling Championship semi-final. For Knocknagree, they are bound for Mallow and a Munster Junior Football quarter-final clash against Knockavilla-Donsaskeigh Kickhams of Tipperary.
But it’s busy times ahead for Knocknagree on and off the field, with players and fans looking ahead to the INEC in Killarney on Friday, November 17 for a Knocknagree GAA Does Lip Sync event in aid of club development funds.