AS Kilmurry-Ibrickane prepare for a tilt at winning their 15th senior championship and eighth since 2002, they do so under the tutelage of a manager preparing for his seventh county final.
Aidan ‘Horse’ Moloney won four championship medals as a player, retiring from senior football in 2005, the year Kilmurry lost their only final of the last 15 seasons. Moloney was at the helm last year when they beat Cratloe in a replay and is aiming for two in-a-row on Sunday.
He likes coaching and management but would still prefer to tog and play.
“You’d love to be able to think you could still play. When you’re on the line, you see things but once they go out on the field, there isn’t a whole lot more you can do. It’s stressful on the sideline and it’s not always enjoyable. There is no doubt football has changed since my time playing. It wasn’t as tactical 20 years ago. It was more or less man-to-man at that stage. The game has moved on and we’re all still learning. It’s all about defensive work, tracking back and workrate. Every aspect of the game is concentrated on now, including analysis of the opposition,” he noted.
The modern game demands that players attack and defend. Especially defend.
“In our time, you had to beat your own man and if you couldn’t do that, you were going to be in trouble. There was nobody to cover for you that time. It was one-on-one. I think that it’s a lot easier to defend now. You have people flooding back in, helping out.
A forward could go around you but he’s still going to meet one or two more after that. But there’s a lot more pressure on the backs now to work the ball out, keep possession and support the play. In the past it was a little bit more catch and kick. In the modern game, you have to go through every player and everyone has to know their job. We try not to make it too complicated but if everyone does their job, you can’t ask for much more,” Moloney said.
With multiple players seeking their eighth championship medal this weekend, Moloney knows it makes sense to use all of that collective knowledge.
“I said that I was going to utilise the experience and the knowledge that’s there, rather than me coming in and telling these guys what to do. I like them to help me out. We’ve had a fair bit of success, even over the last year or so. A lot of these guys have had good coaches over the years and I feel we’ve got a good response in involving the players in what we do. There are calls to be made here and there. We’ve got to pick the team but if your players aren’t with you, you’re really going nowhere.
“Younger lads have to believe in what you’re doing and they have to see it’s working. We have some fabulous players who probably could all be coaches in their own right. We have a lot of leaders and that’s what we’re hoping will get us over the finish line,” he said.
Moloney knows that Clondegad will be formidable opponents. “There is no doubt, they look a very mature group. They’ve been there in the hurling and gained a lot of experience. I think that has helped them a lot this year. They have come through a very difficult run against Lissycasey, Doonbeg and the last day against Miltown. Everything has come the hard way and that can only be good for them.
“Probably our biggest challenge was making sure we were physically and mentally right for our early games. We’re still not happy with aspects of our game, even though we had a great win against Cratloe. Our forward play was poor and there is still a lot we can improve on,” the Kilmurry-Ibrickane manager, who is hoping to house Jack Daly in the parish for the 15th winter, maintained.
By Peter O’Connell