Ki­lanerin thriv­ing

Re-build­ing process reaps re­wards

New Ross Standard - - SPORT - DEAN GOOD­I­SON

WHEN KI­LANERIN step onto the In­no­vate Wex­ford Park turf on Sun­day af­ter­noon, they will aim to climb an­other step on the progress lad­der.

It’s less than two years since Pat Forde took over his club, one seem­ingly on the slide.

In that short space of time the Gorey Dis­trict out­fit have mor­phed back into some­thing many won­dered if they would ever see again, that old dogged Ki­lanerin that just knows how to win the big games.

But it’s not just a throw­back to the glory days, be­cause that sel­dom brings sus­tain­able suc­cess; this is old Ki­lanerin with turbo boost­ers, and it’s work­ing a treat.

‘We have played a cer­tain way for a long time,’ Forde said. ‘Dif­fer­ent peo­ple have dif­fer­ent opin­ions on how we play.

‘We cer­tainly don’t see our­selves as de­fen­sive or any­thing else, we go out to play, we like to get the ball for­ward quickly, hit­ting the full-for­ward line with kick-passes if we can, though that’s not al­ways pos­si­ble.

‘We just call it...we have a high workrate, the play­ers around the mid­dle area work hard when we don’t have the ball.

‘Some­times that ends up be­ing peo­ple back in de­fence be­cause they have chased peo­ple back, (but) gen­er­ally we set up 15 on 15 and go play the game.’

Style points might get you ad­mir­ers, and they can help col­lect the oc­ca­sional medal, but Ki­lanerin are se­rial win­ners who have no qualms about do­ing it their own way. Forde has over­seen that re­nais­sance, one that has al­ready brought In­ter­me­di­ate and pro­vin­cial glory.

The boss ad­mits that the long run to Le­in­ster In­ter­me­di­ate hon­ours helped his side, with the only real neg­a­tive com­ing when Colm Ka­vanagh did his cru­ci­ate in their All-Ire­land semi-fi­nal loss to Michael Glavey’s of Roscom­mon.

‘Winning those tight games def­i­nitely helped us as we went through this year and it gave the lads con­fi­dence, kept them work­ing at the game and play­ing to­gether,’ he said.

The for­mer Wex­ford foot­baller has also been able to add to his tight-knit squad and that has helped too.

‘We have had three of the Mi­nors who have played: Seán (Forde), Páuric Hughes and Ben O’Con­nor. They have all added to it, not just in terms of foot­ball, just hav­ing young fel­las com­ing back in again.

‘Matty was telling me it’s great to have fresh legs, young guys, who don’t care about any­thing, they just go out and play.

‘They don’t have any hangups, they aren’t car­ry­ing any bag­gage, they just go and play the game and those lads have been a breath of fresh air around the place, in every way.’

Young and old legs alike have helped them on their un­beaten jour­ney to the county fi­nal. Forde pointed to the St. Anne’s game as a critical win in their run and knows his side had to lay it all on the line to squeeze past St. Martin’s in the semi-fi­nal.

‘We knew what we were go­ing to get, a good phys­i­cal bat­tle and that’s ex­actly how it turned out. We were hold­ing on at the end of that match, they were com­ing at us. They were way the bet­ter side in that sec­ond-half but we just did enough to hang on.’

The Ki­lanerin at­ten­tion turned to their po­ten­tial fi­nal ri­vals the mo­ment their semi-fi­nal fin­ished. Shel­maliers are an un­com­mon op­po­nent for Forde’s side in re­cent years so he was an in­ter­ested spec­ta­tor as they dis­patched Starlights.

He talked in glow­ing terms about the Malones, about the qual­ity of Eoghan Nolan, but is cau­tious about what the Hol­ly­mount-based side could bring to the ta­ble.

‘I think there is more in Shels than what we saw that day (against Starlights), they won pulling up, the game was in con­trol af­ter 20 min­utes and they never lost con­trol.

‘They used the ball re­ally well, kept Starlights at arm’s length, and never looked like let­ting them back into the game.’

Mid­fielder Niall Hughes.

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