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Dublin: 2 °C Saturday 14 December, 2019
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'I wasn't interested in going with any team, then Clarkie rang me and you can't say no to Clarkie'

In his second year in charge, Kevin Reidy has steered Galway kingpins Kilkerrin-Clonberne to their first All-Ireland final.

Kilkerrin-Clonberne manager Kevin Reidy.
Kilkerrin-Clonberne manager Kevin Reidy.
Image: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

TUNNEL VISION TOWARDS Kilkerrin-Clonberne’s first All-Ireland senior club final appearance tomorrow, but Kevin Reidy can’t help but smile when he looks back to the beginning.

After a stint at the Galway ladies helm in 2014 and 2015, where he took charge of several of his now club players like Nicola and Louise Ward, Olivia Divilly, Lisa Gannon and Lisa Murphy, Reidy was happy enough to do his own thing.

Until Kilkerrin-Clonberne came knocking, that is.

A certain Galway legend, Annette Clarke, who he also managed during his time at the Tribe helm, led the hunt. There was no way he could say no to the 2004 All-Ireland-winning captain.

“They rang me this time two years ago actually to see would I take them,” Reidy explains. “I kind of wasn’t really interested in going with any team, and then Clarkie rang me and sure you can’t say no to Clarkie.”

36 now, Clarke is absolutely flying it.

“Clarkie, she’s an idol,” as team-mate 2019 All-Star Louise Ward recently told The42 before the semi-final win. “We all still look up to her. If you’re doing something Clarkie approves of, you’re like, ‘This is great!’

“She’s been a great role model, she’s always driven the standards. She is the one person I would absolutely love to win an All-Ireland for because she deserves it so much.”

And while Reidy echoes his captain’s words in the knowledge that Clarke is playing the football of her life for the club, you can tell just how pleased he is that his answer was yes in 2017.

annette-clarke Galway legend Annette Clarke. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“To be honest I’m absolutely thrilled that I came out there because you couldn’t be with a nicer bunch of girls,” he says. “They do anything they’re asked to do and they’re dedicated, committed to the club. They’re such a great bunch, so happy out with them.

“There’s a buzz around. I’m actually an outsider, I’m not from Kilkerrin-Clonberne, but I was just out there yesterday, there were plenty of flags and bunting around the place and all that,” the Tuam club man continues ahead of the side’s first All-Ireland senior final.

“It’s a very tight-knit parish and there would be a great atmosphere around.

“We’re looking forward to it. Delighted to be in it. A tough game for us, but sure, we’ll worry about that come Saturday.”

The six-in-a-row county champions and back-to-back Connacht winners made it fourth time lucky in the All-Ireland semi-final recently. Standing in their way now are holders Mourneabbey, who inflicted last four pain on Kilkerrin-Clonberne in 2018 and 2015.

There’s definitely a sense from the players that they owe them one, but Reidy won’t say anything too out of line.

While he acknowledges the opposition’s star-studded line-up — the likes of 2018 All-Star forwards Ciara and Doireann O’Sullivan and Dublin’s Noelle Healy, along with several other Cork panelists — he’s well aware that Kilkerrin have plenty of stars of their own.

tg4-all-ireland-ladies-football-all-stars-awards Louise and Nicola Ward. Source: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

“We have, yeah,” he nods. “Especially say the two Wards getting their All-Stars the other night. It’s a great boost for us.

“Olivia’s [Divilly] played brilliant with the club. The Sunday after the All-Ireland final, she kicked 10 or 11 points for us in a county semi-final, nine I think in the county final. She’s playing great football.

“Then went off to Australia [on an Aussie Rules trial] for a week and came back flying it again. Not a bother.

“They’re a very good team that we’re up against. They have three All-Stars of their own in the forward line alone. Look, it’ll be a tough game for us but we’re looking forward to it.”

It says a lot about Kilerrin-Clonberne that each of their four county players — goalkeeper Lisa Murphy, the Wards and Divilly — were nominated for All-Stars this year.

Certainly, it’s testament to the work put in at the club. But Reidy insists he can’t accept any praise for that: “In fairness now, I can’t take the credit for that. I’m only here the last two years.

“But an unbelievable amount of work goes on in the club, from when the girls start at 8s and 10s. The likes of me as senior manager, my job is easy because I’m getting the finished product really.

louise Celebrating their Connacht title win last year. Source: Sportsfile.

“To be fair to everyone in the club, I’ll not take the credit for that.”

Many others might, but Reidy’s response fittingly backs up a brilliant quote Dublin manager Mick Bohan shared two days later at the 20×20 chapter 3 launch.

‘Underage coaches should be humble enough to prepare the rocket without wanting to go to the moon.’ 

Well, over the past two years, Reidy has put the finishing touches on said rocket, and they’re hoping to hit new heights and go to the moon tomorrow. 

He’s most definitely seen them kick on.

“They were quite young,” Reidy says as he looks back on the growth since his involvement. “We had maybe eight minors playing last year out of the 18 that we used in the All-Ireland semi-final.

“Yeah, they’re a year older and a year wiser as well. We were very light last year, we’ve probably strengthened up to a certain degree.”

“We’ve done a certain amount of work on it but I suppose Mourneabbey, they’d won five Munsters [in-a-row] I think last year so they were obviously on the road a lot longer that we were as a team,” he says when he’s asked about Ward’s opinion that they were “physically beaten” by the Cork side last year.

mourneabbeys-players-celebrate-with-the-trophy Mourneabbey celebrating last year. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“Whether we’ve caught up to them, time will tell. We’d have done a certain amount. We’d still have, I think it’s five minors on our team, and we have a couple of U16s.

“We’re still young but we’ve done work, and we’re happy with the way the progress has gone in that department.”

Most notably though, finally getting over the line in that semi-final and putting those defeats to bed will be a mental boost tomorrow, and confidence should definitely be sky high.

“Yeah, hopefully,” Reidy concludes. “As management, we didn’t talk about it with the girls a whole lot but I’m sure it was on the back of their minds a lot.

“In fairness to the girls, they put in a super performance and it should give them confidence to kick on even more in the final.

“Hopefully.”

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Emma Duffy

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