Darren Giles (right) puts Caulry’s Paddy Sleator under pressure, as David Giles looks on.

Giles feels Coralstown/Kinnegad are growing and learning

Coralstown/Kinnegad captain Darren Giles is under no illusions about the challenge facing him and his colleagues in what is their first county final as a team next Sunday.

As a club, they haven’t been here for 25 years and they are conceding a lot of ground in terms of experience against a St Loman’s, Mullingar side appearing in a ninth successive senior final. Giles is hopeful the underdog tag will help.

“It can do, yeah. I mean, St Loman’s will be strong favourites. It is going to be a very new experience for all of us; this is the first time any of us has played in the county final. St Loman’s have experience and they've got some really quality players, top intercounty players as well, so for us it's a totally new experience and I'm hoping we just go out and shake the shackles off and just see what happens,” he remarked.

Last year, The Downs came in as outsiders and managed to topple the Mullingar men, so Giles is hoping history can repeat itself.

“Maybe The Downs winning last year might give us a bit of confidence that we probably lacked previously. The buy-in from the players this year has been phenomenal. The training has been tough, but it's been really enjoyable, and the lads got really close together as a team and we were growing and learning all the time,” he said.

“We still have loads to learn, loads to work on, but the main thing is that we're enjoying the process and every day we're trying to improve and get better.”

Working under Paschal Kellaghan and former Westmeath manager Jack Cooney, two very experienced and astute coaches, has certainly helped this youthful Coralstown/Kinnegad side.

“It's a great honour, it's a privilege to be captain of such a great bunch of lads. Learning from Pascal and Jack, you can see the progress the players have made individually and collectively. It's been great to see them progress and grow in confidence, improving with each training.

"There's still lots to learn and so it's like a journey and we're just really looking forward to seeing where we can go over the next couple of years as well,” remarked Giles.

Unsurprisingly, their appearance in the senior final for the first time in 25 years has stirred the senses around Kinnegad and there are great memories of those halcyon days.

“It was funny actually; it was the first time after the semi-final I saw the older generation as the older generation. They were coming together and they were talking about ‘96, when they won, and ‘98, and it was great seeing the smiles back on their faces; it was giving them a lift looking back to when they won and the buzz that created around the town. I'm hoping we can do the same,” said Giles.

For the talented forward, it would be the realisation of a childhood dream if his side can cause an upset and claim victory on Sunday. “It would be a dream come true: it's always something you dream of as a kid. You always kind of visualise captaining your team to win the championship. Like, that's all you kind of dream of and for that to come true, it would be amazing: it would be incredible.”