At aged 22, Cian McInerney has accomplished more than most on the hurling field.
However, he isn’t satisfied to just add a county final appearance to his ever expanding CV with the talented hurler hoping to be part of history by helping Inagh-Kilnamona lift the Canon Hamilton Cup on Sunday afternoon.
He wants to atone for previous defeats, most notably his side’s 2019 semi final defeat to Sixmilebridge.
The secondary school teacher believes his side took plenty of lessons from that loss but he does not want a repeat result when coming up against an experienced Ballyea outfit. The former Clare minor insists his side have developed a greater mental toughness since that loss, highlighted by their gritty win against Éire Óg in the semi finals a fortnight ago.
“Two years ago in that semi final we led for most of it but the ‘bridge used their experience to get over the line. We lost that game and it was one we felt that we left behind. We gained a huge amount of experience from that game and it showed against Éire Óg. Last year we were down a couple of points against O’Callaghan’s Mills and we just didn’t step up when we needed to. We need to drive it on now and be accountable all over the field on Sunday.”
McInerney spends his week in Cork as he is a woodwork teacher in St. Colman’s College, Fermoy. The former two time U21 champion with his club states he has avoided much of the hype surrounding the combination club’s first appearance in the senior final.
He is keen to downplay the sacrifice he makes as he travels down during the week to train with the rest of the squad.
“It can be a long day when you are training after working. It’s two hours up the road and two hours back. With training too, you are probably talking about six and a half hours gone in the evening. It’s usually a Tuesday evening we train so it’s usually just once a week and then I’m home anyway on a Friday when we are training again so it’s not too bad. You want to be playing in these games anyway so I don’t mind the travelling.”
“We are just focusing on the game so we will let the supporters create the hype and we will just try our best to be prepared for the game.
“We have great support wherever we go so no doubt they will be out in force again.”
It has been a frustrating year for McInerney as he fights for a starting berth after coming off the bench in their semi final win. The defender, who started at wing forward in the last eight win against Cratloe, is hopeful of being given the nod to start on Sunday.
“Recently, I’ve had hamstring and groin issues while I’ve also dislocated my shoulder so it’s not been easy coming back from those.
“As a player you always want to be starting but it’s a team effort. We have a big panel and everyone is pushing for places which is what you want. You can’t have lads too comfortable. I’ll push hard in training and see where that gets me.”
The road to this inaugural final appearance has been long and winding with Inagh-Kilnamona certainly forced to work hard to reach this stage. They finished top of the pile in a five team group while overcoming an experienced Cratloe in the quarter finals. The 22 year old believes this win was vital for his charges as they dug in deep when Cratloe threatened to mount a comeback throughout the second half.
“I thought we showed great leadership, hunger and desire in the Cratloe game. That was something people had possibly not seen before from us in a big knockout game. Podge (Collins) hit the crossbar and then we went down the other end and got a goal so we got a lucky break there. We drove on then so it was a hard fought win.”
McInerney, who won U21 titles with Inagh/Kilnamona in 2016 and 2018 and a minor crown with the club in 2017, is under no illusions to the challenge his side faces.
“Ballyea are a brilliant outfit. They are not there by chance. They are solid throughout and although there’s talk about who they are missing, they are still a brilliant team.
“Their workrate is phenomenal and they always seem to be able to grind out the victory. They have huge work rate and physicality but we can’t underestimate their hurling ability too. No doubt they will give us a massive test but hopefully we are up to the challenge.”
by Ivan Smyth