Hurling finals get top billing
In comparison to recent weeks it’s relatively quiet, with a double header in Co-Op Superstores Hurling Final taking centre stage in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday afternoon.
There are a number of divisional finals also scheduled, along with under 19 games, camogie and ladies football - well maybe not so quiet after all!
Senior A Hurling Final
Courcey Rovers v Fr O’Neill’s on Sunday in Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 4pm
This is the 3rd year in a row that O’Neill’s will contest this final and they will be determined to avoid an unwanted hat-trick of defeats, having lost to Charleville and Kanturk in successive deciders.
For last year’s contest they were without the injured duo of Ger Millerick and Declan Dalton, no such concerns this year, but they face a side on a winning roll having won the Premier Intermediate title last year.
Now Courcey Rovers are just 60 minutes away from the top grade of hurling in Cork, and that would be some achievement.
It has the makings of an intriguing encounter and both were impressive in their respective semi-finals.
Courcey’s fired in 5 goals in a demolition of Fermoy, while O’Neill’s were equally efficient in their win over East Cork rivals Bride Rovers.
There are quality players on both sides and while Courcey’s struggled for scores in the 2nd half of their quarter-final win over Ballyhea, they rectified that for the semi-final they also have the added bonus in that goalkeeper Stephen Nyhan not only is an excellent shot stopper his ability to score long range points is a plus.
Nyhan is fronted in defence by Brian Collins, Fergus Lordan and Shane McCarthy who will need to be at their best to contain a lively O’Neill’s attack.
DJ Twomey and Martin Collins are a formidable midfield pairing, while Sean Twomey is a vital player in a forward line that will also look Richard Sweetnam, Ronan Nyhan and Jerry O’Neill to unhinge the O’Neill’s defence.
The hurt of the last two years will drive an East Cork side that has a very experienced group of players several who have worn the Cork jersey at various grades.
Ger, Mike, Joe and Tomas Millerick are among this group, add in Mark O’Keeffe, Billy Dunne, Kevin O’Sullivan and Jason Hankard into the mix and it’s an indication of the depth in the squad.
Then there is Declan Dalton - a prolific scorer from play and placed balls and an added dimension they badly missed last year.
That said his presence doesn’t guarantee victory because this is a very resolute and determined Courcey’s outfit who will relish the role of underdogs and will fancy their chances of upsetting the odds.
O’Neill’s will endeavour to put the hurt of the last two defeats behind them, but will it affect their approach, will it play on their minds, especially if it’s tight with the finishing line in sight?
Finals take on a life of their own; Courcey’s with a little less pressure, apart from the desire within the group to win another title, might throw off the shackles, for all that O’Neill’s look better balanced and get the nod to win, but only if they play to their undoubted potential.
This game is live on C103.
Intermediate A Final
Cloughduv v Dungourney on Sunday in Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 2pm
This is a final pairing not many would have predicted at the outset of the championship given the quality of teams competing at this level, but both are there on merit and will savour the occasion with a huge prize on offer.
For Dungourney it’s been a remarkable journey and this is the first time that they have actually made it out of the group phase and the manner of their win over a highly rated Sars team in the semi-final will fill them with confidence.
This is a very young team but they play with abandon; yes they a have system, but their youthful exuberance make them exciting to watch and hard to contain - the wide open spaces of the Páirc might actually suit them.
In their semi-final win, they opened up a big lead but when Sars came back at them they remained composed and had the capacity to see the game out and secure a famous win.
They have some very good players, especially in forward line that has Jack Leahy in scoring form, with good assistance James Ahern, Niall McGrath.
Others that have played vital roles in this exciting run are Ryan Denny, Niall Motherway, Shane Rohan, Warren McCarthy and Paul Flynn.
Now the key question is can they deliver on their biggest day since winning the junior title a short few years ago.
Cloughduv are a more experienced side many of whom were involved when they won both county and Munster championships in recent years.
In the semi-final they overcame a highly rated Lisgoold side with a battling display that took extra-time to resolve, but the manner in which that win was achieved will fill them with confidence as they once again face East Cork opposition.
Brian Verling (1-11 in the semi-final) and Mark Verling are vital players for the mid-Cork outfit with good support from Liam Kelleher, Mark Walsh, Jason Mannix, Brian Ahern, and the highly talented Eoghan Clifford.
This is a hard one to call, will Dungourney’s young guns once again come up trumps or can Cloughduv’s craft and know how get them over the line?
I’m inclined to think that its Cloughduv will claim the title, but they will get a severe test from the young guns from the east.
Once again live commentary on C103.
SE Systems Camogie semi-finals
It’s time for the last four games in both senior and intermediate grades - the latter on Saturday but as of yet venues are not confirmed.
Aghabullogue were beaten in the last two finals but they might just have the edge over Ballyhea, while in the clash of Na Piarsaigh and Blackrock, the latter get the nod.
Sunday’s senior semi-finals form an attractive double header in Ovens, with Inniscarra and Sars first up at 1pm.
Inniscarra are a very experienced side with Rena Buckley, Aileen Sheehan and Joanne Casey leading their challenge and the league champions should just about shade this one.
It’s champions Seandun v St Finbarr’s at 4pm and the view is that the whoever wins this game could take the title such is the strength of both of these side who reached this stage comfortably.
The difficulty for Seandun is that a number of their players will line out with their clubs on Saturday in championship games and how they come through might shape their selection.
There are a lot of good players in this game including Amy O’Connor, Amy Lee, Gemma O’Connor, Keeva McCarthy but Meabh Cahalane is a doubt for the ‘Barrs - her absence would be a blow and might tilt the tie Seandun’s way.
Having won their respective county titles last weekend, a couple of them in dramatic circumstances the Cork champions will this weekend embark on their Munster championship campaigns - all games on Sunday.
The pick of the bunch is the senior meeting of Mournebbey - winner of 9 of the last 10 titles; they will enjoy home advantage at 1pm for their meeting with Waterford champions Ballymacarbry who won their 41st, yes 41st title in a row last weekend.
It’s a repeat of a last year’s clash in which Mourneabbey won - expect a similar outcome.
Castlehaven won the intermediate title on a free taking contest after extra-time failed to separate themselves and Glanmire and can look forward to playing senior next year they play Erin’s Own from Waterford.
In the Junior Championship, Naomh Aban will enjoy the comforts of Ballyvouney for their meeting with Moycarkey-Borris at 2pm.
In Senior B, it’s Fermoy v Clonmel Commercials in Fermoy at 1pm.
There are a couple of interesting hurling finals over the weekend, and there will be new champions in the City and East Cork.
Cobh - already crowned football champions - chase a historic double when they play Erin’s Own in Carrigtwohill on Saturday at 4pm. It would be some achievement if they can pull it off, but the Caherlag lads knocked out the champions St Ita’s and they will be hard to beat.
Ballinlough that most popular of venues will host the City Division Hurling Final on Sunday at 2.30pm, with Nemo Rangers v Brian Dillons.
Dillons came very close to winning the football title a couple of weeks ago and caused a major surprise when the deservedly knocked champions and favourites Passage out in the semi-final.
As for Nemo, they have shown excellent form in reaching this decider and with several dual players won’t lack fitness or motivation, but the concentration on football for the last few weeks might just Dillon’s the edge, but it’s dangerous discounting any Nemo team.