Result is all that matters for Beaufort
THE memory of that oh so absorbing encounter with Na Gaeil in the Premier Junior Final back in May appears distant in one sense but for Beaufort the wait to claim their prize from that sensational extra-time encounter ends this Saturday when they head to Cahir in Tipperary to take on Ballylooby-Castlegrace in the first round of the Munster Junior Club Championship.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing since for the Mid Kerry side, however. Relegation from Division 1 of the County League after a one-year stay followed by a shock exit to Laune Rangers in the Mid Kerry semi-final in surrendering the district title have followed that glorious day in the Austin Stack Park sunshine.
However, it has not affected the team in other years like it might have their manager Éanna O’Malley believes.
“If we didn’t have this [Munster] I think being relegated in the County League and losing in the Mid Kerry Championship would have been very hard to recover from. We were competitive in the County League though despite being down a few players during the summer and lost some tight games that could have gone our way.
“Our hope was to be in the Mid Kerry final, but that didn’t go to plan. We’ve had four or five good challenge matches since though where at least the players were able to full tilt and not be worried about picking up injuries like if they were playing in another competition,” the Beaufort boss said.
Beaufort’s participation in this grade means that every Mid Kerry club will have the distinction of playing in some form of a Munster Club Championship as O’Malley admits watching their fellow Mid Kerry sides have made them a bit envious.
“When it’s so close to you, seeing all the other clubs take part, it makes you want to experience it yourself which we are thankfully now doing. The gap has given us to chance to follow how all the other counties are going, particularly on our side of the draw but it’s a bit of a subjective thing because it is hard to compare standards across them all,” he believes.
Ronan Murphy is a big injury concern for Beaufort ahead of the weekend, but O’Malley says the change in timing of the Club Championships in Kerry presents a different challenge now to those going forward into Munster.
“Before you would be worried about being too tired going into these after a run of games, now you are worried about being undercooked with the gap especially when the other teams are coming straight out of their counties,” the Beaufort manager said.
Their opponents this Saturday Ballylooby-Castlegrace did not win the Tipperary Junior Championship in going forward into Munster with Templemore’s JK Brackens beating them in the final. However, as it was a B side from the Templemore outfit that won, they were ineligible to go forward to Munster in advance of the match.
From what O’Malley has seen of the South Tipp side, he is expecting a very committed challenge in Cahir this Saturday.
“They defend in numbers and like to run with the ball as well and they look very cohesive in how they play. We are just looking for a result on Saturday rather than worrying too much about the performance especially with the gap involved.
“The opportunity to have a Munster semi-final at home in the next round if we win is something that we are using as a big incentive with the lads to try and get them focussed on the game.”
Murphy’s absence would be a setback for Beaufort, but there is a lot of quality in their ranks in the form of Liam Carey, Mike and Nathan Breen, Fergal Hallissey, Jonathon Kissane, Padraig Doona, Ciaran Kennedy and Ronan Ferris to see them through this long trip to Cahir.
Veteran goalkeeper Mike Moriarty will provide good experience as well as they bid to restore Kerry’s dominance in this competition following the end of a decade long run of Kerry victories in this grade by Knocknagree of Cork in last year’s final with Dromid Pearses.
First things first though and that will be to ensure that Michael Cusacks of Clare will have to travel down to Kerry the following Saturday for the semi-final.
When it’s so close to you, seeing all the other clubs take part, it makes you want to experience it
Michael O’Sullivan of O’Sullivan’s Beaufort Bridge (sixth from left) Presenting a set of togs to the Beaufort Captain Nathan Breen for their match against Ballylooby, Castlegrace Tipperary in the Munster Junior Championship (from left) Fergus Kelly, Kevin Ferris, Maurice Breen, Frank Coffey Club Chairman, Mike Breen and Eanna O’Malley at Beaufort GAA Grounds on Sunday.