KILCORMAC-KILLOUGHEY GO into this Sunday’s All Ireland Club final as underdogs. But they’re not happy about it.
Ordinarily, teams will verbally joust in the build-up to a game. each scrapping to shake off the ‘favourites’ tag.
You can get better than 2/1 against the Offaly champions against St Thomas’ on Sunday. For Kilcormac’s Ger Healion, the odds against the side have proved a motivating factor against Oulart-The-Ballagh and Thurles Sarsfields.
“We said before the [Thurles Sarsfields] game, we had won our first Leinster, they had won their first Leinster, why should we be such underdogs.” Healion reasoned, adding:
“The odds were very insulting to us but it was great because we did not have to prove anything. It was up to them to justify their odds and all we had to go was to go out and play our game.”
There was another upside too, as Healion points out that win give the local economy a bigger boost than normal. The logic was simple, the form guide showed they were better than the hotly-tipped Oulart-The-Ballagh.
“A lot of people in our parish won a lot of money because of those odds, but we thought it was a bit unfair on us. The way we looked at it was, would Oulart-the-Ballagh have been such huge outside odds if they were playing Thurles? So why were we?”
The full-back added: “Thurles were such poor odds that they were hardly backed although people came up to us and said to “thank you, you made me a lot of money today so there were a lot of happy people.
“But at the end of the day that was not what we were there for, we were there to win it and we knew before we went win that we had every opportunity to win that game and we took it.”
Living in Australia in 2009, Healion was beckoned home by his twin brother Peter as the club sustained a run in the championship. Yet having been away, Healion says having his brother ahead of him on the field is no more special than playing with the rest of his close friends in the tight-knit community.
“It is even more special to be playing with all my best friends.” Said the 29-year-old.
“There is just great camaraderie and great craic and that is the key, you have to be enjoying it. We left at nine o’clock on Sunday morning and we were up [to train and watch the Railway Cup in Croke Park] all day and did not get back until nine that night and none of us complained because you are just with your best friends all day long.”
For this group, the pressure is off. Everything after the Offaly title is a bonus.
“I am not going to say that we are going to lose the final but our main aim at the start of the year was to win the county title.
After losing three county finals in the last 10 years, I would have happily ended the year with a county title and from there winning Leinster was a huge bonus.
“We are hurling with our heart on our sleeve and why not, we have nothing to lose.”