Massive game for Éire Óg and Mallow
Almost eight months on from its scheduled date, the footballers of Éire Óg and Mallow finally get to play their Senior A Championship decider in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday night at 7pm.
It is most unusual – well it has been an unusual 16 months - to be playing your first real serious game of the season and it been a county final, with a huge incentive on offer, a promotion to the top grade in football for the coming championship season, which gets underway in August.
However, both sides are just glad to be playing and neither side has any real advantage, as both returned to training on the same date, and for all the work you do on Zoom or on your own nothing beats collective training.
The downside for Éire Óg is that the very talented and experienced Ciaran Sheehan is out of the game and Manager Harry O’Reilly is gutted for the All-Ireland medal winner of 2010: “Really disappointed for Ciaran on a personal level, he made a huge effort to get fit and there is no doubt he is a loss.”
Harry is happy with their preparations: “Well we started back when we were allowed. We have had six weeks uninterrupted training, played two games, which were very good and apart from Ciaran we are all fit and ready to go.”
Éire Óg are also in the Intermediate Hurling Final in a couple of weeks time and enter this game as the Premier Intermediate Champions of 2019, effectively going for successive championship wins and promotion which would be some achievement. Harry agreed: “It would really and like every club we have ambitions to play at the highest level, but I am sure Mallow have the same ambition.”
And Harry is well aware of the potential within the North Cork team: “Ah sure, they have very talented players, many of whom have and continue to play with Cork. We have met over the years and there has been very little between us and I am sure Saturday will be just the same. But we are ready and looking forward to it and hopefully we can get the job done.”
Mallow boss Keith Moynihan expressed the same sentiment as his Éire Óg counterpart: “Just delighted to get the opportunity to play what is a huge game. Just a pity that it couldn’t have been played late last year, but it is what it is and we have just get on with it.
“Mallow had a win over neighbours Fermoy in the semi-final but it’s so long ago it’s irrelevant and form will not be a guide coming into this final. We have played just one game, but we are happy with that and thankfully we are injury free, the usual bumps and bruises that comes with training for a final.”
Keith acknowledges that Éire Óg are a team on the rise: “They are, after all, going a second football title in succession and they have a nice mix of youth and experience in their team and we will really have to be at our best to win.”
Mallow were somewhat unlucky when the championship was restructured and that did not sit well with Keith: “We felt a bit hard done by losing out by just a point, but we got on with it and now we have a chance to go back up, we were there before and would love to go back to the top tier.”
There are quality players on both sides. Mattie Taylor, James Loughrey, Ryan Harkin and Cian O’Riordan who says he’s retiring after this game will lead the Mallow challenge, while Daniel Goulding, Ronan O’Toole, Colm O’Callaghan, John Cooper and Kevin Hallissey are key men for the Muskerry outfit.
It’s a very hard game to call. Last season’s games have no bearing. Form goes out the window, so picking a winner is a bit of lottery, but have a slight fancy for Éire Óg on the simple basis that they look to have a more potent attack and that might get them over the line.
Junior A Football
These quarter final games will move the championship nearer to conclusion and some interesting encounters down for decision, all on Saturday at 5pm.
Iveleary should get the better of Midleton in Inniscarra, Kilmacabea will be favoured in their clash with Charleville in Coachford, Passage are expected to get the better of Urhan, while Boherbue will be fancied in their meeting with Valley Rovers.
Mixed results for the Cork teams over the weekend and for three of them it’s now time to focus on their upcoming championship days.
The exception are the ladies footballers who have a league final to look forward to against Dublin in Croke Park on 26 Saturday. Well done to all and we will look at that game next week.
The footballers survived a tough test from a Westmeath side that scored some classy points, but Cork’s ability to get goals proved crucial and they were all quality goals, ultimately the difference between victory and defeat and another year in Division 2.
That will a tough division next year, but that’s for another day. Now it’s Limerick or Waterford in the Munster semi-final on 10 July.
Ronan Mc Carthy was upbeat after the game: “We will be in good shape come championship, the injuries are a slight concern, but the majority should be ok.”
A thin line between promotion and relegation with four games played - three wins, one loss and a poor 20 minutes against Kildare their undoing. Defensively they need to be better so that will be the priority in the coming weeks.
Cathal O’Mahoney and Ciaran Sheehan are ruled out for the championship, but overall there are more positives then negatives.
Kieran Kingston was disappointed at their failure to close out the game against Galway and with it a chance to top 1A and a possible league final against Kilkenny but overall happy enough with the league: “Played ten half’s of hurling, lost two today and the first half last week against Limerick.”
Kieran also confirmed that Brian Turnbull has opted out of the panel, and that Bill Cooper, Colm Spillane and Niall O’Leary should all train this week, ahead of the big one - Limerick in Thurles on 3 July.
The camogie team lost out after extra-time to Galway where, from my viewing, they certainly were hard done by some refereeing decisions, but missed frees and a penalty did not help.
Overall Paudie Murray expressed happiness with the campaign which developed a few young players and will now look to further develop this team in the Munster Championship clash with Tipperary in Cork in two weeks time, who themselves were unlucky to lose to Kilkenny in the other semi-final.
The All-Ireland Championship gets underway on 10 July and Cork have had a somewhat favourable draw, with Waterford, Dublin and Down in their group.
Tommy Lynch RIP
Tommy’s passing last week severed another link with the old and the new Páirc Uá Chaoimh and of more recent times Páirc Uí Rinn.
Many well deserved tributes have been paid to a much loved character since the news broke.
His was the first face that greeted you in the old Park and invariably the last you would see when leaving often after a lengthy board meeting and as someone said last week even longer if it was the Camogie Board.
Tommy’s role evolved over the years. He started as a stileman, moved on to groundsman, eventually been responsible for the distribution of gear to the various teams.
His wit was well known and woe betide anyone who tried to better him in that side of things you invariably ended up losing.
A generation of Cork players from all codes formed a bond with Tommy that was reflected in the many tributes on RIP.ie and by the large turnout as his coffin passed the stadiums he loved - Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Páirc Uí Rinn - on his final journey on Saturday last. And mention of journeys, Tommy was some man to travel apart from his many trips with the Cork teams. In recent years he travelled to Australia to visit his daughter and her family over 20 times, yes 20 times, the last a short few years ago at the grand age of 89.
Since retiring a couple of years ago, two men in particular were in constant contact with him and kept us all updated on his well being - Colin Lane and Derek Connolly - and for that they deserve our thanks.
Sincere sympathy to Anthony and Marian and his extended family here and in Australia. You can be proud of Tommy’s contribution to Cork GAA. He is now at the gates in Paradise waiting to greet newcomers with his brand of Cork humour that we all miss.
Rest in peace, Tommy.