Tuesday 23 January 2018

Multi-tasking McDermott can deliver Croker dream -- Hickey

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

SOMETIMES it takes a defeat to make a team.

The 2008 Munster club final loss to Dromcollogher-Broadford sticks in the craw out in the small part of West Clare called Kilmurry-Ibrickane.

Manager Micheal McDermott has described it as a game they "should have won" and that they "kicked away a lot of chances".

Corner-back Darren Hickey echoes those sentiments: "We felt like we threw it away. This year we felt like we got a bit of justice back."

Dromcollogher were convincingly put to the sword earlier in this campaign as Kilmurry went on another provincial odyssey.

That they find themselves in the last four in the country is a shock to almost everyone outside the club.

In some ways, Hickey's story reflects that of his club. He wasn't a regular in the side last year but a few weeks ago he was named as the AIB's Munster club player of the year.

Under McDermott, Hickey and the club have found a way to squeeze the utmost out of their resources.

It's not entirely new ground for them. Kilmurry were Munster champions in 2004 and while they were applauded for that achievement, the view was that they had taken advantage of what was a less than vintage Munster line-up.

Milltown-Castlemaine represented Kerry that year, while Nemo Rangers were replaced by Bishopstown as the Cork representatives. Waterford's Stradbally provided the opposition in that year's final -- only the second time that a club from the 'big two' had not made the decider -- and led by International Rules star Odhran O'Dwyer, Kilmurry prevailed.

They were expected to enjoy their day in the sun and disappear back to Clare. However, they returned in 2008 and were caught by a determined Dromcollogher.

Once again, they were expected to fade into the background but this campaign marks a watershed. No one could argue with their achievement when the famous Kerry club Kerins O'Rahillys were dismissed in the final in dramatic fashion.

This year too, they have had to deal with the absence of O'Dwyer, who has been less prominent because of injury. Still the club drives on.

Nevertheless, Portlaoise are hot favourites for tomorrow's All-Ireland semi-final -- justifiably, given their recent results

Kilmurry, though, showed a huge degree of professionalism when getting past London's Tir Chonaill Gaels in the quarter-final in Ruislip, where even the great Crossmaglen side got a severe examination.

"It was tough game," Hickey said. "It's only getting tougher from here. Portlaoise are a great side."

In the Munster final, Kilmurry were helped by the controversial disallowing of a late Kerins O'Rahillys 'goal'.

"We could have lost that game with that late goal," admitted Hickey. "You need that bit of luck. It was nice to get over such a good side.

"They had great forwards and we kept them to six points so it was a great boost to us."

McDermott is double-jobbing as Clare manager and he seems to be working the oracle there too, as the Banner have recorded two wins from two in the league.

"He has serious discipline in the team. Last year I wasn't even making the team and this year I put my shoulder to the wheel. At the start of the season last year, about five or six of the team were out drinking at a wedding and he dropped them all," said Hickey.

"And they would be top-class players. From then on, no one ever stepped out of place.

"He's on the go six and seven nights a week between club and county. He travels nearly 30 miles for our training but it's not easy going. I'd say he never gets to see his wife!

"He has left us away from Clare as long as we are in the club championship. Hopefully we'll be out for another while and maybe get to play in Croke Park."

Irish Independent

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