Kildysart are a club well acquainted with finals. In the last three years, they have contested three intermediate finals, and an U-21 final. What they aren’t well acquainted with, though, is success.
Manager Jacko Cleary says the club need to shake off the losing ways and he believes the current, talented group of U-21s are the group that can break the hoodoo.
“It’s good to back there. It’s basically the same team as last year bar one big player; Rory McMahon. We’re pulling from a panel of just 17 players. In our first game this year our ‘keeper had to play wing forward as one of our players was out injured. Two minutes into the game, he broke his collarbone so that ruled him out for the season. We may not have many players but what we have are some very good players.
“Six of our U-21s started for our intermediates in the county final and one came on. That’s a good return for such a small squad. There were four or five with the Clare U-20s and two of them with the Clare seniors. As for underage, I don’t ever remember a group as strong as them, and we have had some great teams down through the years. We have some serious players, especially in attack. If we get the ball into our forwards, they will do damage,” Cleary said.
That winning feeling is something that has been missing from Kildysart for far too long and Cleary believes it’s mightily important to get over the line, sooner rather than later.
“It is hugely important for us to win one. Since 2016, we’ve lost three intermediate finals and an U-21. That can become a bit of a habit. You need to break that and get on the podium, and make other teams look up at you. Beating the so-called bigger teams will give you that boost you need,” Cleary insisted.
Kildysart have impressed this season, winning a thriller against Clondegad by a solitary point before beating the Banner easily in gruelling conditions. Cleary says those games will stand to his team in a big way.
“To be quite honest, we didn’t play that well against Clondegad. We conceded three goals in a six-minute period and we were struggling for long periods in it. We eventually got to grips with them and scored seven unanswered. For me, it was the Banner result that was most impressive. To score 14 points in what were some of the worst conditions I’ve seen a match played in. I thought that was just exceptional.
“What I love about these players is that they’re proper footballers. They love kick-passing. The ball moves faster than any man can. If we get the ball into them as fast as we can, then we will do damage. Our forwards only play well when the rest of the team are playing well too, and that must be remembered. It’s not all about the forwards, they have to be supplied,” Cleary said.
Kildysart know they are in for a battle against Wolfe Tones – a team they’re well acquainted with, and a team that have beaten Cratloe and Miltown Malbay en route to the final. Cleary knows his side will get nothing easy.
“I saw Wolfe Tones’ semi-final last weekend and they’re a team that’s never beaten. They should have been beaten and they weren’t. Miltown were on top from the start but when Wolfe Tones levelled it, I knew there was only going to be one winner. They completely took over. They have a good strong panel of 25 or so, and we just haven’t that luxury. We know well what they’re like from last year,” Cleary concluded.