This could be just the start for young Kiladangan side - Lawlor
By Shane Brophy
Kiladangan manager Brian Lawlor admitted the monkey is off the back of the club as they secured their first county senior hurling title in their 105-year history on Sunday.
They may have spent most of their existence in the lower grades but there was a growing element of pressure that having lost two of the last four finals that this was a make or break final for Kiladangan, and while Brian Lawlor disputed that assertion, he did feel that the team can now go and show its true potential.
“To win the first one is so difficult,” Lawlor began.
“There is so much in the back of the mind about the club having never got there and so much expectation, but that monkey is off the back now and in the future those Kiladangan lads can relax and hurl.
“The big stat for me is the average age of that team is 23. I doubt if any other senior team has an average age of 23 so there are lots of years left in them.”
However, it’s all about savouring this one first and with the minute of injury time in extra time played, it looked as if disappointment would be their lot once more until Bryan McLoughney’s late late intervention.
“It kept looking like it wasn’t going to be our day,” Lawlor continued.
“But in fairness to the lads they never gave up and that’s what we have improved on since last year. There is a bit more belief there than there was last year, and we just never gave up.
“Utter dejection last year at the final whistle and then the elation this year, it’s great to make up for last year.”
Ten first half wides and the concession of three first half goals were some of the self-inflicted wounds Kiladangan had to fight their way through in the game with Brian Lawlor admitting the team’s maturity was highlighted in how they responded.
“If we had conceded three goals in the first quarter last year in the county final, we were gone,” he admitted.
“But despite conceding those three goals there was parity there in open play. We were playing well and most of our guys were winning their battles.
“The first half we played well but we wouldn’t be happy with a lot of our play from half time on but who cares, we won the title.”
He and his selectors also have to take a lot of credit for the decision to throw Bryan McLoughney back into the game in extra time, and he came up trumps.
Lawlor said: “That’s all you want someone to do is to contribute and what a contribution he made. It wasn’t his game in normal time but the one thing about Bryan McLoughney is, and it has been that way since he started hurling, is he is a shooter and he is the guy you want with the ball in his hand if you need a score and he got three balls in his hand and scored 1-2 in extra time. He’s knighted in Kiladangan now.”
Brian Lawlor has been there for the bad days in the club, when in 1996 they were a Junior ‘A’ team but have risen to become the best senior hurling team in the county in 2020.
“It’s great to have Dan Breen in the parish when you look back 25 years ago that the club made the decision to drop themselves down to junior from intermediate,” Lawlor continued.
“It was bad times economically. There were lads leaving the club to join other clubs, there were guys leaving the club to emigrate.
“We went down Junior ‘A’ and I was playing corner back and got hammered by Roscrea’s second team, so you move forward 25 years, one generation, and now we are winning Dan Breen. It’s just phenomenal and its credit to the huge about of work done by so many people over the last 25 years.
“It is not this year, it is not even this decade but it was the platform laid by the guys at committee level in making those crucial decisions, getting the facilities up to scratch, getting a coaching plan in place, getting our juveniles playing in ‘A’ grade and not ‘C’ grade and that has brought through the guys that can hurl and they showed it out there.
“It’s a lesson to any club, non-runners in junior ‘A’ to senior champions in 25 years.”