By Niall Gartland
KILLESHANDRA have had some tough seasons of late, but it’s fair to say that 2021 hasn’t been one of them.
They’re underdogs for this weekend’s Intermediate Championship semi-final against Ballyhaise, but even reaching this stage of the tournament is a fine accomplishment for a side that didn’t win a single group stage match last year.
Their new manager Mark Monaghan has also guided the team to an upcoming Division Three semi-final, even though some of their key players are presently absent through injury.
Monaghan, who led his native Kinawley to the Fermanagh Intermediate Championship two years ago, says they’ve had no choice but to work with what they’ve got.
“Darragh Tighe is out all year. Paddy King is more or less gone from the semi-final. He came on the last day out but got injured again, and Killian Reilly is injured. You’re going into the semi-final with fewer players than you had at the start of the season. They’re massive losses but you have to get on with it.”
Semi-final opponents Ballyhaise are strong favourites to prevail. They gave eventual winners Ballinagh their best game in last year’s competition, losing by four points in the semis, but Killeshandra have reason to believe they can make a game of it.
Monaghan said: “Ballyhaise are favourites for a reason. You can see the quality they have in every sector and they’ve a good squad.
“But we’re in a semi-final and we’ll give it the best shot we can. We had a good run in the league and didn’t lose a game. Then we took a bit of a trimming in the first-round of the championship by our neighbours Arva. We sat down and took a look at what was going on. Then we went on a bit of a run and things are going well.”
The Leaguers qualified for the quarters with a hard-fought victory over rivals Cornafean. They were the more efficient team in the front of the posts and won out on a scoreline of 1-11 to 1-8, and it was their fourth win on the trot in this year’s championship.
“It was a good win, we came out on the right side of it. It was a good intense game from a neutral perspective. Lady luck shone on us at certain stages of the game but we’ll take that when we can get it.”