Monday 10 December 2018

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Final beckons in Senior Hurling Championships

Wednesday, 26th September, 2018 4:21pm

Senior Hurling Championship semi-finals

 

Firstly it's the champions against the team many see as potential champions, especially if College have a full deck to play with.

Imokilly looked comfortable without being overly impressive in their narrow win over Newcestown, who showed commendable spirit that very nearly saw them pull off a famous win.

The question of course is, do Imokilly have the same drive that saw them win the title last year? We will find out more on Sunday as this will be their toughest test to date.

Make no mistake, there is a lot of quality in the UCC side. Apart from the Cork quartet of Mark Coleman, Darragh Fitzgibbon, David Lowney and Sean O’Donoghue, you can add in Tom Devine, Michael Breen and Shane Conway. That is, by any standards, a very strong side.

Of course their difficulty will be, how many of their players will have been involved with their clubs in Cork and outside ahead of this match?

Imokilly also have a good strong panel available, Colm Spillane, Seamus Harnedy, Bill Cooper, Paudie O’Sullivan, Ger Mangan and Will Leahy among them.

It has the makings of an intriguing contest given the quality on view with both teams; champions are hard to beat but a nod to UCC to win, narrowly.

Blackrock vs Midleton

2017 runners-up Blackrock are just 60 minutes away from back to back appearances on the biggest day in Cork club hurling and the manner in which they dismissed the ‘Barrs in the quarter-final would suggest that the experience gained in that campaign has benefited the team, which is still a relatively young one.

Midleton were last in the final, which they won, in 2013, and narrow one point wins against Glen Rovers and Newtownshandrum will instill in them a belief that they are developing a winning habit, and that’s a great trait in any team.

In those wins, a number of players have stood out. Conor Lehane was outstanding in the win over the Glen, and while he wasn’t as prominent in the ‘Barrs game, he still carries a huge threat and the Rockies defence will need to be at their best.

Luke O’Farrell is in great form, Sean O’Leary Hayes equally so and Cormac Beausang, Paul Haughney and goalkeeper Tommy Wallis have all impressed in their previous games.

Blackrock had a few players with St Michael's as they advanced to the semi-final of the Premier Intermediate Championship, as did the Rockies Intermediate team last week, so that winning feeling will be around the team in the lead up to this match, not a bad thing to have in your locker.

There is a nice look to their team; the Cashmans, John and Niall, Tadgh Deasy, John O’Sullivan, Kevin O’Keeffe, Michael O’Halloran and the hard working and effective midfielder Stephen Murphy will anchor their challenge.

This could very well be the game of the championship, and a hard one to call, Midleton look to have a more potent attack, while there is a nice balance to the Rockies, and that might just be enough to get them over the line.

Premier and Intermediate Championships

There are plenty of games in both grades as these very competitive championships are really at the business end, with a lot of exciting matches to come.

First up on Friday night in Páirc Uí Rinn is the hurling semi-final between Éire Óg and Blackrock, and for the latter to make this stage with their second team, is no mean feat. Blackrock survived a stern test from Kildorrery last week with a quality display but they will need to be as good again for this clash as Éire Óg, with Daniel Goulding and Kevin Hallissey leading their challenge, will be fancied to win.

The second semi-final is also in Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday night, with a high flying Ballincollig facing Mayfield who are battling on both fronts, and impressing in both. The bulk of the team that brought an All-Ireland title to Mayfield are still key men for them including Nicky Kelly, Gavin Looney and Shane O’Donovan, while the likes of Liam Jennings, Rory O’Doherty, James O’Leary, Ian Coughlan and Cian Dorgan will anchor the Ballincollig challenge.

Close one here, but with football off the agenda for now, the mid-Cork side should win, and set up a possible all-Muskerry final with Éire Óg. Wouldn’t that be interesting? But of course the city sides will have other ideas.

A short few hours before Imokilly play UCC, a number of their players, notably Declan Dalton and Ger Mellerick, will line out with their club Fr O’Neill’s in the Premier Intermediate Hurling semi-final against a Kilworth side that are buoyant after a brilliant win over North Cork rivals Mallow last week, and this has the makings of an intriguing contest.

O’Neill’s have been very impressive at various grades in recent years and have a nice mixture of youth and experience, and that trait could very well be enough to get them through, but expect a tough hour from the men from the Avondhu division.

There is also a host of games in the junior hurling and football championships, a couple of relegation playoffs, along with under 21 hurling and football championship encounters in what is a very busy weekend.

Incidentally the two senior semi-finals from Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday will be broadcast live on C103.

Camogie

The last of the quarter-finals go ahead on Saturday in Castle Road at 2.30pm.

Douglas vs Milford

Milford have been inactive in the championship since their first round win over Glen Rovers, while Douglas have been busy with a number of games including two in the space of four days last week, where they had excellent wins over St Finbarr's and Carbery. In both games, the influence of Cork stars Catriona and Pamela Mackey and Julia White has been profound, while goalkeeper Jess Kavanagh has also excelled.

Milford, though, are a battle hardened outfit with the Watson sisters and Ashling Thompson key players, but will the lack of competitive games come against them? It just might and that would give Douglas the edge.

Inniscarra v Ballincollig

On Sunday at 5.15pm, also in Castle Road, it’s an all mid-Cork affair in the first semi-final with champions Inniscarra facing Ballincollig who have battled hard to reach this stage of the competition.

Sarah Buckley, Leah Weste and Ashley Lovett have been excellent all season and will need to be again as the champions are hitting form at the right time. Inniscarra have a wealth of experience in their side, and with Rena Buckley, Niamh McCarthy, Ellen Murphy, Claudia Keane and Niamh Dilworth, they look better equipped to remain on course for the three in a row.

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