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County Final double for Páirc opening

Thursday, 19th October, 2017 9:56am

Sunday’s official opening of Páirc Uí Chaoimh by Uachtarán CCG Aogán Ó'Fearghail could not be marked in a more fitting way when, for the first time in the history of Cork GAA, both senior county finals will be played on the one day.

All credit to the board for this decision, it would have been the easy option to put the football final back a week and avail of an extra gate, but by not doing so, they deserve credit and the admission of €20 represents excellent value.

Blackrock vs Imokilly

A repeat of the 2001 decider, which the ‘Rockies won, but there is no doubt they will enter this game as underdogs given the performance Imokilly served up in the win over Sars'.

That position, though, will suit a young and vibrant Blackrock side who, according to selector Wayne Sherlock, are not getting the credit they reserve for reaching the final.

“We are in the final and not many people would have thought that at the start of the year but we have been getting better with every game. Hopefully we can maintain that improvement for Sunday.”

The former Cork star is well aware of the challenge facing them. “Of course we are, just look at the quality of players and the depth in the squad, however when the match starts, it's 15 against 15, so all we can do is prepare our own team and hope that they can deliver on the day.”

That said it’s great to be back in a final, he says: “It’s been hectic the last few weeks, with St Michael's as well; it's just a pity they did not win. There's great excitement around the parish and it’s something we are all really looking forward to. We haven’t been there for a while and we are determined to do ourselves justice.”

Imokilly have been very impressive in reaching this final even if they do have some defensive issues that will need improving if they are to lift the title. It's fine racking up big scores and that has got them through some difficult tests, and there is no doubt that playing together (Sunday will be their fifth game in a row) has brought them on as a team, but conceding big scores is a worry.

Brian Lawton is a real workhorse in midfield and has also managed to clip over a few scores while Seamus Harnedy, Paudie O’Sullivan, Cian Fleming and Brian Mulcahy have been in top form in front of goal, and these, plus a few more have the capacity to test the ‘Rockies defence.

To be fair to that Blackrock defence, which is well marshalled by John and Niall Cashman and Eoin Smith who are infront of a good goalkeeper Gavin Connolly, they recovered quickly after conceding two goals to Na Piarsaigh to confine the northsiders to just three points for the remainder of the game.

Stephen Murphy is a excellent player in midfield and the attack is ably led by Michael O’Halloran, Ger O’Regan, Shane O’Keeffe and David Cashman has made an impact when introduced.

This unit were excellent in the semi-final and they will relish the opportunity to inflict damage on an Imokilly defence that can be breached, but Colm Barry, Niall O’Leary and Ger Mellerick have been their top defenders.

All the portents favour a win for Imokilly, as they look to have a much stronger side and with more options, but Blackrock have done what has been required of them all season, and with a huge tradition behind them, they could cause an upset, do not rule it out.

Nemo Rangers vs St Finbarrs

For the second time in three years Nemo find themselves involved in a replay of a county final which, with 34 minutes played last week, looked extremely unlikely as they led by 0-12 to 0-5, with Luke Connolly in sparkling form.

To that end the ‘Barrs deserve immense credit for the manner in which they fought back with captain and midfielder Ian Maguire leading the way while Stephen Sherklock’s accuracy was also key.

It was a cracking game, especially in the second half, and both sides will have had mixed views on the end result.

The ‘Barr’s thrilled to be still in with a shout of ending their long wait for a ninth title, while Nemo will be regretting their failure to see this one out and the missed chances might yet come back to haunt them.

Who now has the momentum? Probably the ‘Barr’s who will surely be better equipped for the task ahead. But at the end of the day, Nemo are still in the opposite corner; beware of the wounded animal, and they did win that replay against Castlehaven, so they know what is required.

I fancied a draw last week but for Sunday I think the ‘Barr’s might just shade it.

Interestingly if it’s a draw after 60 minutes there will not be extra-time, it will go to a third meeting to ensure the official opening goes ahead as scheduled at 2.45pm.

 

Elsewhere

Kanturk enter new territory on Sunday when they play St Mary’s from Clonmel in the Quarter-Final of the Munster Club Championship in Mallow at 1pm. With the game being played at a venue they are well used to it should give them an edge, and with it, a victory.

In the County Junior Football Championship that redoubtable group of players from Erin’s Own head back out to Brinny for a replay on Saturday at 4pm against Kilmacabea. It’s not the first time they have upset the odds and they are well capable of doing so again.

In the Under 21 Football semi-final, it’s the meeting of Douglas and Kilmurry in Ovens on Saturday at 4pm to determine Cill Na Martra’s opponents in the final.

Camogie

Another busy weekend as the board endeavour to complete the SE Systems Senior Championship to ensure Cork are represented in the Munster Club Championship.

The first of the semi-finals goes ahead on Saturday at 1pm with Glen Rovers playing the winners of Wednesday night’s Quarter-Final meeting of Carbery and St Catherine’s.

Then at 4pm, it’s a Quarter-Final replay between Douglas and Inniscarra, with the winners due out on Wednesday next in the semi-final against Milford.

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