The teams parade before Sunday's North final at Cloughjordan.
Following Kiladangan’s win in the 2015 North Tipperary senior hurling final Dan Hackett’s men landed in Semple Stadium, Thurles for a county championship quarter-final and got walloped by Drom & Inch (5-13 to 1-15).
On the week-ending Sunday, October 2nd Kiladangan will take their place in the last eight of the Tipperary Water County Senior Hurling Championship once more, but, you suspect, the North champions will not go down as easy. Indeed, there seems to be a much harder edge to Kiladangan this year with the work of their forward division in the tackle significantly improved. They say that teams reflect the personality of their manager and Kiladangan boss Dan Hackett is proud to see that harder edge in his team, especially his forwards.
"Last year in Thurles we were very, very disappointed in how we performed. We never really got out of the blocks and to be fair to Drom & Inch they bullied us all over the field. That is something that we tried to rectify this year and to be fair to the boys they worked really, really hard on their conditioning," Dan Hackett explained to the Tipperary Star before highlighting the work rate of his forwards and how that work rate is a requirement to win a place on this Kiladangan team.
"They know if they don't work they won't be there. It's as simple as that. They know the score. If they don't work they won't be long finding out (about it),” Dan Hackett said with a beaming smile.
Kiladangan collected the Frank McGrath Cup on Sunday for the sixth time (1938, 1943, 2008, 2013 & 2015) and another bridge was crossed as Kiladangan continue on their journey from struggling intermediate outfit to senior powerhouse.
"Twenty years ago we were struggling to beat Roscrea's second team, but, to be fair to the club, an awful lot of work went in underage and we are starting to see the benefit of it now. We have a great group of players there and some of them only nineteen, twenty, twenty-one and twenty-two so they have yet to reach their peak. Hopefully over the next three or four years they can go on and achieve something really, really special," Dan Hackett explained before his thoughts turned to the final itself and the challenge posed by Kilruane MacDonagh’s who were chasing a first title since 1990.
"We are delighted. We knew coming down here that it was not going to be easy. Kilruane are a fine, fine outfit and their year is not over yet by a long stretch,” Dan Hackett added.
“We prepared really well during the week and we gave ourselves every opportunity coming down here, but, to be fair to the boys, they performed on the field and that's where it matters at the end of the day."
Kilruane mounted a significant rally late in the second half, but Kiladangan saw off the MacDonagh’s in a composed finish.
"Kilruane were always going to come back,” Dan Hackett said.
“They are a fine team with some exceptional players and they were going to have their period of dominance. It was down to how we would deal with it. I thought the boys dealt with it reasonably well; there are aspects of the game that we won't be happy with and we know there is loads of room for improvement.”
In January of this year, when it was revealed that the North championship would be reduced to a straight knock-out format, Dan Hackett spoke out in defence of the divisional series. Indeed, on Sunday he was eager to highlight the cultural significance of the competition.
"I grew up coming to big games like this,” Hackett explained.
“The North championship is a huge part of the senior championship in Tipperary; no more so than the Mid, West and the South. It's a chance for clubs to win silverware at the start of the year. I know it's probably a fixture headache, but if they play the games when they are fixed and get on with the thing there are more than enough dates."
As a parting word Dan Hackett wished to praise the contribution of his management team, particularly coach Seán Treacy (Portumna) and selector Martin McLoughney: "I think Seán (Treacy) and Martin (McLoughney) are really the brains behind the operation. I just show up and give out every now and then. Martin and Seán prepare the team, decide the tactics and without them we would be nowhere. I can't speak high enough of the two of them as individuals and as men”.