Re-building process reaps rewards
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.