Michael Doyle in action against Moyle Rovers in the county semi final
For a club that has always afforded hurling priority status, Killenaule captain Tony Doyle is among a group of players within their ranks with proven county pedigree that are determined to make their moment count.
One of their more experienced players Doyle who played senior county football for Tipperary with his clubmate Declan Fanning in 2002, said they had put in a tremendous amount of hard work to get to Sunday’s final and they would do everything possible to upset the odds in Semple Stadium and bring a first ever senior county football title to Killenaule.
“It’s great to get there, it is just massive for the club” said Tony Doyle who is relishing the opportunity for his team to take on Clonmel Commercials on Sunday.
Not only is this their first ever appearance in a county football final since the club was founded in 1885, it is their first appearance in a senior county final since 1942 when they contested the senior hurling final.
“Look we are a hurling club first , we make no secret of that. Everyone knows that we were disappointed with ourselves how the hurling finished for us, but there are great characters in that side. Everyone rounded up together after that and we said that we would give the football a right shot. It has led us to a county final now and we are delighted to be there” said Doyle.
The captain believes that the inherent strength of character and resilience within the group played a huge part in getting them this far.
“We are a very resilient team and as you can see from the result against Moyle Rovers - our backs were against the wall and we still kicked on. There is definitely characters in the side and we are very resilient.” said Doyle.
He believed the three games in recent weeks against Moyle Rovers, a county championship semi final clash that was decided after extra time, and the south championship replay in Fethard, were games that provided Killenaule with the perfect preparation for Sunday’s challenge.
“Moyle Rovers are a top class team and we knew that it was going to be a battle the whole way. We drew the first day and after extra-time it was still a draw. They came out on top by a point the second time and we won the third one by a point so it was always going to be close.”
“It was a great experience for us to play in those matches. They were all tough games as we knew they were going to be. In that county semi final Moyle Rovers were absolutely cruising, they were six points up after fourteen minutes, but we have fierce character in our side, we have been together for a few years and we have been in many the battle together so we were not going to give up, our heads were never going to drop “ said Doyle
Such close games were needed to steel Killenaule for the task of taking on Commercials
“When you get to a county final you know that you are going to be playing against the best and that’s the way it is going to be. We know what is facing us next Sunday. It is a massive challenge - they were Munster champions two years ago. Nothing needs to be said about Commercials - they are a top class team, but we are going to be here and we are going to battle.” said Tony.
The captain takes great pride in the strength of unity and purpose within the group who battle together in hurling and football.
“We are mostly the same group. It is the same management team for both hurling and football and the same group of players are involved. We are better known as a hurling club and our first goal is always hurling. When the hurling is over we want to give football our best shot, the lads are nearly all dual players.” said Tony who played underage football and hurling for the county up to U/21 and played senior football for the county under Tom McGlinchey and Seamus McCarthy.
That dual set up within the club created one of the most talked about sights of the GAA season in Tipperary when there was some amusement when some Killenaule players emerged from their dressing room for the pre match warm up for the midweek south senior football championship semi final under lights in Ballyporeen with hurleys.
“I know a lot of people were surprised to see it and there was a lot of talk about it but for us it was a normal thing to do. We had to play the south hurling final against the Swans the following Sunday so the lads that were not starting the football did the warm up with us with hurleys just to get in some ball work and some of them would have come on in the football that evening as well. That is just the way it is”he said..
For a team that concentrated so much on hurling during the year Killenaule have a very good footballrecord.this year.
“We have won five, drew one and lost oneby a point in a replay to Moyle Rovers in the south championship, that is the only football game we have lost all year.
The previous year we did not win one football championship match in the south or the county so that is some turnaround” he said Tony Doyle.