Kilmurry-Ibrickane’s victory over St Senan’s, Kilkee, in Sunday’s senior football final saw them become the first club to retain the Jack Daly trophy in a decade. Their great rivals, Doonbeg, achieved this feat when they won back-to-back titles in 1998 and 1999.
In fact, Doonbeg is the only club to have won back-to-back championships in the past 30 years, a feat they have achieved on three occasions, 1982/’83, 1995/’96 and 1998/’99. Cooraclare interrupted a possible five in a row in 1997 when they beat the Magpies in the final. Kilrush Shamrocks achieved a five-in-a-row in the 70s when they were champions from 1975 to ’79 inclusive.
Kilmurry’s attempt to win back-to-back titles in 2005 was denied by St Senan’s who emerged victorious on that occasion.
Following Sunday’s merited win, Kilmurry officials must already be having thoughts of a three-in-a-row. In his two years at the helm, Michael McDermott has seen Kilmurry suffer just one defeat in a competitive outing and that was in this year’s Cusack Cup final that they lost to Cooraclare.
They came into last Sunday’s final as the hottest of favourites but they had to survive quite a number of scares before emerging with the title.
The first half was particularly disappointing, producing just five scores and Kilkee with just two, both goals, led at the break by three points. The seasiders had played with the aid of the breeze in the opening half and could have been further ahead at this stage but they were guilty of a couple of bad misses.
The decisive moment came at half time when Kilmurry decided to introduce Noel Downes to their attack. Downes missed much of the season due to injury but he made a return to full fitness a few weeks ago and he was introduced with telling effect in the semi-final against Doonbeg.
He made a huge impression on Sunday and although on the pitch for only half an hour, he was the best forward on view in the final as his contribution of three points shows.
He also found time to help ‘set-up’ points for teammates and, in general, caused huge problems for the Kilkee defence.
That the teams were level with two minutes to go is a tribute to the determination of a Kilkee side struggling to cope without the absence of first choice defenders Dara Kelly and Christy Kirwan. The loss of both these experienced players was huge and the beaten finalists just didn’t have the strength in depth to replace either.
While the arrival of Noel Downes on the field of play was the crucial move, the introduction of veteran Odran O’Dwyer also had a major impact. His strength saw him win a lot of possession and two frees awarded to O’Dwyer were pointed by Ian McInerney and helped close the gap to the minimum.
O’Dwyer’s brother, Peter, was another to make a vital contribution to this win. Struggling somewhat in the first quarter, he was the dominant midfielder in the second half and he pointed twice in the last ten minutes as Kilmurry took control. His midfield partner, Paul O’Connor, also made a valuable contribution and he also scored in the closing stages of this final.
For now, Kilmurry’s thoughts turn to the upcoming Munster club campaign and a first round date with the Limerick champions on November 8.
Kilmurry-Ibrickane will have home advantage against either Drom-Broadford or Fr Casey’s whose final was abandoned on Saturday night last due to a serious leg injury to a Fr Casey’s player. At the time the teams were level at 0-5 each.
While manager Micheal McDermott will be insisting on all attention being on this one, club officials and supporters must be dreaming of 2010 and the possibility of a first ever three-in-a-row of senior titles for the club.