IT has been a rollercoaster few weeks for everyone at Raheens as they’ve celebrated making it back to the Senior grade for the first time since 2005 after victory over Kilcock.
Their 2-12 to 1-9 Intermediate Football final victory over Kilcock was a long time coming and as Rory Hannick rightly pointed out in his victory speech on the day, ‘Raheens are back’.
Taking time to reflect, manager Declan O’Toole was delighted with the way his team played for the most part.
“We started off well enough and then just sat back and let Kilcock dictate the pace of it and they got a good start in the second half but I was very happy with 29 minutes of the second half really you know.
“We were two points down at half-time and then they got a goal to put them five up in the first minute of the second half but then we kicked the next five points in a row and in fairness to Kilcock they came back with another few points again. I think it was Collie Power’s interception for our first goal that really helped us finish out well,” said O’Toole.
As O’Toole points out the celebrations went on for a few days and there were a lot of emotions flying around but pure delight was the main one.
“It was a real relief and jubilation to be fair. Obviously it was a relief to get out of Intermediate but you know at the end of the day it was brilliant to win it,” he said.
Raheens who are well known for past provincial success having won the Leinster Senior title in 1981 head into the Intermediate version this weekend after a few weeks break from the final exploits against Kilcock.
“In a way the four week break should suit us. We had a few days of celebration and then we were back training on the Thursday night.
“There were a few lads away so it was good in a way because we had a couple of lads carrying injuries into the final and it gives them a chance to get back to normal and hopefully be back fully fit. We have been just playing games amongst ourselves because we have had so many lads with the under 21s,” said O’Toole.
In Gorey on Saturday (throw in 2pm) Raheens will face Wexford champions Kilanerin, who include Wexford GAA legend Mattie Forde in their ranks. 38 year old Forde scored three points and set up a goal as Kilanerin beat Longford’s Ratchcline in the first round of the competition. Raheens will be without the suspended Jason Earley after he was sent off late in the Kildare final but O’Toole is hopeful they can put on a good show.
“We’ve seen Kilanerin in their last couple of games and they are a very big and strong side. Hopefully we can give a good account of ourselves anyway. To be fair to them they were impressive in the game against Rathcline It was a blustery day, the wind was blowing across the field and they dominated Rathcline from start to finish really.
“They are a strong physical team with plenty of lads capable of scoring and it will be a really big test for us and its one I’m hoping and believing that we are well capable of coming out on the right side of,” said O’Toole.
The Raheens manager knows it’s a big step up but after meeting their primary objective for the year the shackles are now off in a way.
“We have spoken to the lads that the pressure is off now as we have won the championship and everything else is a bonus now. We had a really good chat on the Thursday night after before we trained some of the lads and senior players spoke very well and they said this could be their last ever chance at this grade so we might aswell go and have a cut at it and in fairness to them they really are up for it.”
“It will be nice to have a good crack at it and hopefully we will. We’ve played well and are happy enough with the way things have been going and we will give it a good crack,” said O’Toole.
By Robert Cribbin