Kilmurry will relish the battle - McDermott
THE melting pot of the Munster club football championship has produced two fascinating matches, with three of the last four provincial title winners in quarter-final action tomorrow.
Reigning Munster kings Dr Crokes travel to Quilty, Co Clare where Kilmurry-Ibrickane, the 2009 champions, are primed to give the Killarney side a hot reception.
Cork's crown is held by Castlehaven, victors over Duhallow last Sunday, and they invite Limerick representatives Dromcollogher-Broadford -- Munster winners 2008 -- into the crucible that will be Clonakilty.
And this is only for a spot in the last four! Quite a daunting task for each of the four teams but particularly for the pre-match underdogs -- Kilmurry-Ibrickane and Drom- Broadford.
Former Clare manager Micheal McDermott has intimate knowledge of the four teams. In 2009 he managed Kilmurry-Ibrickane to victory in the Munster championship and on to the 2011 All-Ireland club final, which they lost to St Gall's of Belfast.
For the last two years he was engaged in the Limerick club scene with Monaleen, who won the county senior title in 2011.
Top of the bill in terms of national interest is the Kilmurry-Ibrickane clash with Dr Crokes, whose headline stars are Colm 'Gooch' Cooper and Eoin Brosnan.
McDermott smiles as he reflects on the 'cead mile failte' the Kerrymen can expect in West Clare.
"There's no place more inviting in the months of June and July than the village of Quilty, but in the month of November and with a Munster championship game at stake, it's a different proposition," he says.
"I always remember the year I was involved with Kilmurry-Ibrickane, and we played Galtee Rovers from Tipperary in the Munster quarter-final. It was one of the most miserable days I've ever stood on the sideline.
"There was wind, there was rain, there was hailstones all in one afternoon, and when the lads got off the bus from Galtee Rovers that day, you could see they were nearly a beaten team.
"Looking at the Kerry county final, Dr Crokes looked very impressive -- they've a lot of really good quality players.
"On paper they should be winning this match but Kilmurry-Ibrickane, on their home pitch, are very, very hard to beat.
"The other thing about them is they'll always rise to a challenge when there's a motivating factor behind them.
"Home venue is a big plus for Kilmurrry-Ibrickane because the support will be intimidating."
McDermott concedes that if Crokes are fully focused and their stars are on their game, the Kerry side has the quality to get over this hurdle.
There is also the question of strength in depth for Kilmurry-Ibrickane.
"They've lost key players in Michael Hogan, Stephen Moloney and Mark Killeen to emigration since I was there," says McDermott. "But when you look back to the county final Odhran O'Dwyer came on and did his work. He's around 38 years of age.
"In the forwards, Johnny Daly, who is around 35, is still performing really well for the club and is very effective.
"The older guys have probably stepped up to the mark a notch."
Looking at Crokes, McDermott sees their cause being boosted by the three-in-a-row achievement and also the presence of Mike Moloney and Shane Doolan in their defence.
"They've both come back from London. With Clare last year, Shane Doolan played wing-back for London against us in the National League, and these guys are big additions to Dr Crokes.
"When you look at Dr Crokes, they've six top forwards, a formidable midfield and when you add Mike Moloney and Shane Doolan to their backs, all of a sudden they're probably going to be a better team than was there last year."
Drom-Broadford hit the headlines recently for the wrong reasons when one of their supporters confronted a Newcastle West player in the drawn county final.
Extra-time was needed in the replay before Drom-Broadford emerged with their second Limerick senior championship in four seasons.
Now they go to Clonakilty, where Castlehaven are buoyed up by last Sunday's Cork SFC final victory over Duhallow.
McDermott reflects: "We played Drom-Broadford with Monaleen in the Limerick championship this year and of all the teams we played, they were probably the stand-out team against us.
"They are an experienced team that will wear you down. The style of football they play, they hold the ball well, they use possession well, and if it's a tight scoring game, they will out-score you.
"Watching Castlehaven last Sunday, they look physically strong and with some really good footballers.
"Duhallow are a quality side, but Castlehaven, even when they were down to 14 men, they hung in there and got the goal at the right time.
"To win a Cork county championship is a huge feat. Castlehaven were there last year. They were beaten in the final by a very good UCC side, and now they're back. When you come out of Cork you have a good chance of a run in Munster, simply because Cork is so hard to win.
"What Drom-Broadford have is power, but Castlehaven can match that. And having it at home in club championship is a big, big, plus."