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Kiltane on cusp of glory

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Mikey Sweeney, Kiltane

Mikey Sweeney, Kiltane

SPORTSFILE

Mikey Sweeney, Kiltane

Over the last two weeks, Martin Barrett has been busy preparing his side Kiltane for today's All-Ireland club intermediate football final. He knows that they may never reach the same heights again so he is leaving nothing to chance.

From the moment Kiltane beat Cork side Clyda Rovers in the semi-final on January 26, Barrett has had his work cut out. As the manager of a small club team, a lot of responsibilities fall on his shoulders.

From a logistical point of view, travelling from north Mayo to Dublin on the day of the game wasn't feasible so they travelled yesterday. Transport, hotels and meals needed to be organised, as did a pitch for some pre-match training.

Barrett and the club secretary took care of it all. On the advice of the Mayo County Board, they organised a press night so the local and national media could have access to the players and management before the final.

There was also the important matter of today's opposition. Barrett has been taking each game as it comes so he only had a small window to do his homework on Ulster champions Truagh.

"We only had a couple of weeks to do our background work on Truagh," explains Barrett. "That meant we were trying to glean as much information as we could from as many sources as we could in order to put together a plan for today's game. We are confident enough that we have our homework done and hopefully if our lads perform on the day we will come out on the right side of the result."

In 2012, Kiltane were relegated to the intermediate championship for the first time in 40 years. Although they had experienced limited success at senior level, it was still a big blow for the club.

"We decided to make a concerted effort to get back up to senior immediately. That meant winning the intermediate championship. We did that and it opened a door for us into the Connacht championship. We won that and it has brought us here."

Like all small rural clubs, Kiltane have been affected by emigration but they have tried to accommodate anyone who is based within practical travelling distance of home.

They have three players involved who live in London and one who lives in Scotland. They travel back every weekend for training and matches.

"They give a huge commitment and it's a huge ask. But you won't make any inroads into an All-Ireland series without commitment like that," says Barrett.

Irish Independent