Pictured ahead of the Bon Secours 2022 Cork County Premier Senior Football final are Eoin Comyns, St Finbarrs and Micheál Aodh Martin, Nemo Rangers, at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Photo: Jim Coughlan

Nemo face ‘Barr’s in an intriguing county final

With the mammoth county championship programme nearing its conclusion, Sunday’s double-header in Páirc Uí Chaoimh - and as ever both games are live on C103 - is certainly a very attractive one, while the junior championships will also advance further with some interesting games scheduled.

Bon Secours Premier Senior Final

Nemo Rangers v St Finbarr’s on Sunday at 4pm

It could well be described as the ideal final - two unbeaten sides that play good open attractive football with an emphasis on attack.

These are two clubs with a rich history in the competition, with both having added incentives, not that it’s needed in a county final and certainly not when they play each other.

The ‘Barrs are reigning Cork and Munster champions and are trying to retain the title - something they have not done since ’79-‘80, and there is the little matter of the double last achieved by the Blues in 1982.

Nemo are unbeaten all season and with it being their centenary year, a win which would be their 23rd title would make it extra special.

Goalkeeper Micheál Aodh Martin is conscious of the centenary aspect, but the focus is on this game: “Of course it’s special but for us, it’s a county final against our great rivals and our job is to put that aspect aside and try and get the job done.”

It is somewhat unusual for Nemo that for once, they are not favourites. “Hard to argue with that, the ‘Barr’s are champions and have been very impressive all season but we have prepared well. It’s where we want to be and while we know we will need to step up on recent displays, we are looking forward to the game.”

Paul O’Keeffe is the ‘Barr’s manager and dealing with the double talk has been a welcome incentive. “The hurlers winning has been great for the club and the atmosphere around is brilliant, and while it has put a bit more pressure on us, it’s a nice place to be.”

As for the dual players, “We gave them until Thursday to enjoy the celebrations but a few of them turned up and trained lightly on Tuesday but we have had a full squad since, thankfully no injuries and ready to go.”

Paul is well aware that this will be their toughest test all season. “Without a doubt Nemo are a very good team with quality all over the field and over the years there has been very little between us and I would expect Sunday will be no different.”

Paul agrees that last year’s extended run, winning Munster and only losing the All-Ireland semi-final after extra-time, has been a help in the development of the team.

“I suppose it has given us that extra bit of confidence and that has shown in some of our games this year, even though we are still missing chances.”

The manager elaborated, “Well in the semi-final we missed a lot of goal chances and I was saying to myself, I hope they don’t come back to haunt us, but to be fair, the lads did not panic and stuck to the plan and got over the line.”

Alan O’Connor is a key member of the ‘Barr’s defence, he’s also physio with the hurlers and like everyone in the club is delighted with the season so far. “It’s a very exciting time to be a ‘Barr’s player or supporter and that is helping everyone, but for the team we must put that aside and concentrate on our own preparation, which has been very good.”

Balancing both codes has not been easy but the respective management teams work well together. “Brilliant really and the results show that, and as players we have responded to that as well. I have great friends on the hurling team and all we want it for the club to succeed.”

Alan though has huge respect for Nemo: “You have to really, they are a very good team and there has been very little between us whenever we play and I expect Sunday to be no different.”

Nemo coach Paul O’Donovan says coming out of a tough group has stood to them. “Winning our group was important as it meant that the other big hitters we would avoid and that’s how it worked out.”

The quarter-final win over Carbery Rangers was a dour affair. “It was and we found it hard to break down their defensive set up, but we got there and were much improved for semi-final win which was a good display.”

The ‘Barr’s though on Sunday will be the ultimate test. “For sure, quality team. I remember well the last time we met in a final, it took a replay to resolve, so we know it will be a tough encounter. They have 6 very good scoring forwards that will need to be curtailed, but I am confident our backs are good enough to contain them.”

Looking at the respective line-ups, picking a winner is not easy.

The ‘Barr’s attack as Paul mentioned is top class; Steven Sherlock has been outstanding all season, Brian Hayes, Ben O’Connor and Cillian Myers Murray will really test the Nemo rearguard.

Kevin O’Donovan has been a consistent performer for club and county all season, Stephen Cronin, Kieran Histon and Kevin Fulignati will need to be at their very best.

For Nemo, captain Luke Connolly on his day can be unmarkable, while Mark Cronin, Barry O’Driscoll and Conor Horgan are regular scorers.

Paul Kerrigan is seeking a 10th medal, will he start or be held in reserve and maybe be an impact sub coming down the stretch? It’s a big call for the manager.

Defensively the ‘Barrs are solid and dependable, Sam Ryan, Jamie Burns, Billy Hennessy in front of goalkeeper John Kerins.

The key battle will be in midfield and here the champions have a very effective and hard working pairing in Eoin Comyns and Ian Maguire who as captain leads by example and his powerful runs have unhinged the best of defences.

Nemo’s Barry Cripps and Alan O’Donovan will really need to be at their very best to win this battle. If they can, it will be a huge boost for Nemo’s prospects of ending the champion’s reign.

But can they? The ‘Barr’s duo are powerful performers and are the catalyst for most of their wins, the quality ball they deliver gives them a vital edge and possibly a winning one.

This is their 4th meeting in a final, Nemo have won the previous 3, while between them they have won the last 5 titles, Nemo with 3, the ‘Barr’s 2, so will it be 3 each on Sunday or 4-2 to Nemo?

It has the makings of cracking final, hard to pick a winner, but a slight fancy for the ‘Barr’s to retain their title and in the process complete a dream month for the Togher club.

Bon Secours Senior A Final

Knocknagree v St Michaels on Sunday at 2pm

When these sides met in the first round and St Michaels emerged winners, little did they think that they would meet again in the final, especially as Knocknagree lost to Bishopstown in round 2, but they salvaged their season with a win in their final group game.

Since then, they have shown considerable improvement and this was very evident with an excellent win over Clyda Rovers in a cracking semi-final, sparked by the introduction of Eoghan McSweeney and now that he is nearly back to full fitness, he will be a pivotal player in the final.

It’s been a demanding season for Knocknagree and the depth of their panel has really been tested this year.

Given where they have come from, junior a short few years ago and now on the cusp of attaining senior status is a fair achievement.

There’s is a good team and like St Michaels, they defend well but place a strong emphasis on playing good fast ball into their attack.

Patrick Doyle, Daniel O’Mahony, Danny Cooper, Fintan O’Connor, Matthew Dilworth and Michael McSweeney have enjoyed exciting run of recent years and will make one big effort to attain their ultimate goal.

St Michaels have been very impressive all season running big scores in their games and the majority of them have come from play.

They went direct to the semi-final and since that first round win over Sunday’s opposition, Alan O’Callaghan and Robbie Cotter who didn’t play in that game have added further to a very accomplished side, especially Cotter’s prowess in


The worry for them is that they have been in this position so often in recent years and failed to get over the line.

Can they finally deliver on the day when it matters most?

Of course a few of their players suffered the disappointment of the hurling final loss with Blackrock.

This though looks a very balanced outfit. Sean Keating, Peter Cunningham, Daniel Meaney, the Hegartys Eric and Keith along with Adam Hennessy are in a rich vein of form right now, maybe just at the right time.

Both sides have plenty of big match experience, Knocknagree enjoying a better return in finals, but on this occasion the odds favour Michael’s winning what is sure to be a lively encounter.

Junior championships

Football semi-finals

Cobh v Buttevant Saturday in Kilworth at 3pm - verdict Cobh.

Kilmurry v Urhan Saturday in Bantry at 3pm - verdict Kilmurry.

Hurling quarter-finals

Kilshannig v Dromtarriffe on Saturday in Banteer at 3.30pm - verdict Dromtarriffe.

Valley Rovers v Ballinascarthy on Saturday in Bandon 3pm - verdict Ballinascarthy.

SE System’s Intermediate Camogie Final replay

Blackrock v Aghabullogue on Saturday in Ovens at 1pm

Blackrock looked like they have this title in the bag last week as they led by 8 points in the second half but the resilience and determination shown by Aghabullogue might just give them the edge in this eagerly awaited replay on Saturday.