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Game On

County hurling final day nothing beats been there

Thursday, 31st October, 2013 12:00am

Sarsfields v Midleton Sunday 3pm Pairc Uí Chaoimh

It's the final everyone, well neutrals anyway, wanted with by far the two best teams in the championship contesting Sunday's eagerly awaited encounter.

Sars are appearing in their fifth  final in six years and are endeavouring to do what no team from that famed club has ever done and that is retain the Seán Óg Murphy Cup.

By contrast Midleton are back in the decider for the first  time since 1994, with a team bristling with young and exciting hurlers.

Both sides have eased into the final, Sars did get a scare from UCC, and in the process have shown just how far ahead of the chasing pack they are right now.

Sars banged in five goals against Killeagh, then racked up 24 points in seeing off Ballymartle, while Midleton put both Bishopstown and Na Piarsaigh to the sword with clinical efficiency.

There is one area which Sars will have a vital edge, experience, and in particular of county finals, and that will help them as it might take Midleton some time to adjust to what is a big day.

Sars may have the edge in experience but they are a relatively young team - Ray Ryan, Fraggie, the Wexford duo of Eoin Quigley and Eanna Martin apart - and are built from the successful minor sides of a few years ago.

Conor O'Sullivan, Cian McCarthy, Daniel Kearney, and Robert O'Driscoll are still young in years, but with a bagful of medals behind them, give a nice balance to the team.

Midleton have an attack that has the potential to trouble even the best of defences and as the championship has aged they have improved immeasurably, and Conor Lehane's form right now is top drawer stuff.

Goals of sheer quality in the last two games and 1-11 in the Under 21 final last week, whoever is detailed to mark him on Sunday will need to be at the top of his game, or else, they will be in trouble.

It's not all about Lehane, Brian Hartnett, Luke O'Farrell, Padraig O'Shea and Aidan Ryan are all playing well as an attacking unit, and scoring freely.

Defensively they have also tightened up with James Nagle, Patrick O'Mahony, and goalkeeper Tommy Wallace in good form, while in midfield Peter Dowling and Paul Haughney are an effective pairing and their battle with Daniel Kearney, what an engine this guy has, and Gavin O'Loughlin, could shape the outcome of this final.

One other question surrounds Midleton, how will they react if they fall behind and are in a bind? They have not really been tested yet, there is no greater examination of any team then when they must dig themselves out of a tight corner.

Finals are hard to call, this one is no exception, Sars are favourites, especially as they appear to have more options, look at Michael Cussen's presence at the edge of the square, but there is also the burning desire to put titles back to back and though they won't even mention it, there is a bit of unfinished business outside of the county.

Picking a winner is not easy, Midleton will relish the challenge to down their East Cork rivals, and they would certainly appear to be the team that could dominate in the coming years, but they might have to just wait a little bit longer to land the cup, and it's Sars for me to win, by 3 or 4 points.

Intermediate Hurling Final

Kanturk v Eire Og Sunday @ 1.15pm Pairc Ui Chaoimh

12 months on from losing to Kilworth, Kanturk are back in another final determined to erase the memory of that disappointing loss as they face an Éire Óg side that have a wonderful hurling pedigree, but in recent years have been making more waves with the big ball.

Strangely it was a surprise loss to Rockchapel that has allowed them concentrate solely on hurling for the last few months and that will be help.

However they did not exactly set the world alight with their semi-final display against St Catherine's, but semi-finals are all about getting over the line, and they duly obliged on that score.

Kanturk have really lived on the edge in this championship, winning a couple of games by narrow margins, while at the same time racking up big scores and by the same token conceding a fair few as well.

It may be the curtain-raiser to the main event, but there are some heavy hitters on view on both teams, John and Lorcan McLoughlin. Aidan Walsh and Anthony Nash for Kanturk, Daniel Goulding, Kevin Hallissey, Ciarán Sheehan and John Dineen for Éire Óg.

Interestingly the displays of Walsh and Sheehan will be closely watched as many are suggesting that this talented duo could be part of the Cork hurling set up for next season.

As for now the concentration for both is on Sunday, and it looks like that it is Kanturk who will be celebrating shortly before 3pm.

Keep an eye on

There is plenty of action in various grades and competitions over the weekend, with the first  game this evening (Thursday), when Nemo Rangers and Carbery Rangers meet in the KS Final in Cloughduv at 7.30pm.

Kilbrin and Castlemartyr return to Pairc Ui Rinn at 11.30am on Sunday for their Junior hurling semi-final replay, with Barry Lawton back for the East Cork champions.

In the football equivalent Mitchelstown and Glenbower Rovers, meeting in Pairc Ui Rinn at 6pm on Saturday.

Castlehaven make the trip to Killarney for a clash with Dr Croke's in the AIB Munster Club Championship and it's hard to see the Kerry champs being denied especially on their own pitch.

Youghal head to Sixmilebridge buoyed by their win over Ardmore on Sunday last in the quarter-final of the Intermediate Hurling, who they are playing won't be known until Saturday as the Clare final is only on that afternoon, which suggest that Youghal will be fresher then either Feakle or Whitegate and should advance to the final.

In Camogie Milford make the trip to Lattin-Cullen for the Munster Final against Granagh-Ballingarry from Limerick, on Saturday at 2.30pm and will be warm favourites to retain their title.

In brief;

Sincere sympathy to the family of Galway hurler Niall O'Donoghue on their tragic loss last week and well done to Conor Cusack for having the courage to speak openly about his own difficulties.

Paudie Kissane has called time on his career in the Cork jersey and he leaves having served the county with distinction.  On a personal level he was always very helpful before and after matches, irrespective of the result, and my thanks for that and all the best for the future.          

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