Hurling and camogie take limelight
After the excitement of the last few weekends, it is set to be much calmer this weekend with just a couple of games coming up in junior hurling and camogie. In hurling, Nemo Rangers will switch codes while Ballygiblin will begin the defence of their Munster Junior Hurling title. In camogie, Sars and Aghabullogue begin their Munster campaigns.
Munster Junior Hurling Championship
Ballygiblin v Grangemockler on Saturday in Cahir at 1.30pm
It’s a rare occurrence at this level but Ballygiblin get the opportunity to win back to back Munster Junior Hurling titles and with it a chance to go one step further than last year when they came up agonisingly short in a thrilling All-Ireland Final.
This is of course possible because of the changed structure in the Cork County Championship and having won the Junior title last year, they found themselves playing Premier Junior instead of Intermediate but next year they will play in that grade.
The Ronan Dwane coached side were impressive and comfortable winners of the final easily overcoming the Tracton challenge and amidst all the celebrations, they made the point that they would give the Munster Championship their full attention, with as they said unfinished business to deal with.
Grangemockler were actually beaten in the Tipperary Final by Upperchurch-Drombane so they are only the nominated team and might find it difficult to get motivated for this game, but the fact that it’s on home soil, so to speak, will help them and they will want to give a good account of themselves.
By contrast Ballygiblin come into this game with huge momentum and determination to extend their season.
There is a very strong team with Christopher Noonan a solid and dependable goalkeeper fronting a defence anchored by captain Fionn Herlihy, the quality at centre-back of Mark Keane, James Mullins and Lorcan Finn.
In attack they have players well capable of troubling any defence among them Darragh Flynn, Joseph O’Sullivan, Cathal O’Mahony and Sean O’Sullivan.
It’s over three weeks since their county final win and with good preparation behind them, they look well set to advance to the semi-final against Waterford’s Colligan in a couple of weeks time.
Co-Op Superstores Junior Hurling Championship Quarter Final
Nemo Rangers v Erin’s Own on Sunday in Riverstown at 2.30pm
In the immediate of their win in Sunday’s County Football Final, a number of Nemo’s dual players referenced this game, as they were keen to make it a double - a clear indication of how seriously they are treating this championship.
Let there be no doubt that they celebrated in style but once they had that out of the way, the focus will turn very quickly to this tricky looking tie.
Erin’s Own though will really test them as this is a side packed with very experienced players who have played and won at the highest level and that was very evident in the East Cork Final as they comfortably saw off Cobh.
On 35 minutes they trailed by 2-7 to 1-4, but then they confined Cobh to just 2 more points and at the end were 4-12 to 2-9 winners.
Central to that win were Mark Collins - he bagged 1-8, Shane Murphy, Tom Dillon, Jack Sheehan, Pat Fitzgerald and Andrew O’Sullivan.
Nemo were impressive winners of the City Championship and make no secret of their desire to win this title and the determination they displayed to date will make them hard to beat.
James Masters - always a quality hurler as an outfield player - is now delivering the goods as an excellent goalkeeper, Cork footballer Kevin O’Donovan - outstanding last Sunday - was in great form in beating Brian Dillons clipping over 0-4, while dual players Ronan Dalton, Conor Horgan, Alan O’Donovan, Barry Cripps and Stephen Cronin all made important contributions.
It’s a hard one to call, Erin’s Own with unhindered preparation might be slight favourites but coming in on the back of winning a county title might just be enough to give Nemo the edge and with it a place in the semi-final against Muskerry champions Ballinora.
Two Cork sides begin their Munster championship campaign this weekend.
In Senior, Sars who were so unlucky in the county final defeat to Seandun, will make the trip to Clare and a meeting with the Banner champions Scariff-Ogonnelloe on Sunday at 2pm.
Clare camogie has shown huge improvement in recent years as evident by the tough test Cork got from them in the Munster championship and with home advantage, they will fancy their chances.
Sars though are a young and up and coming team and have some very good players including the likes of Molly Lynch, Orlaith Mullins, Hollie Herlihy, Cliona Lynch, Ella Woods and Tara Elliot. They will want to put the county final defeat behind them and are well capable of winning, even away from home.
Fresh from winning a cracking Intermediate decider, Aghabullogue will face Tipperary champions Borrisleigh in the Munster semi-final on Sunday in Coachford at 2.30pm, but will the exertions of the last two weekends take its toll?
The drawn encounter with Blackrock was played in difficult conditions as was the replay and that went to extra-time in equally trying conditions, so it’s a big ask for the newly crowned Cork champions.
That said, this is a very determined Aghabullogue side and now that they have regained their much cherished senior status, the pressure, to some extent is off, but they will want to keep their winning run going especially at home.
Cliona Healy was the match winner last weekend with 1-12 in the final, with Emma Flanagan, Ciara McCarthy, Katie McCarthy, Nicola Moynihan and Aoife Barrett offering excellent support.
If they have recovered sufficiently, Aghabullogue with their fervent supporters behind them should win and progress to the Munster final.