Munster championship games take centre stage
Three Cork clubs will enter the AIB Munster Championship on Saturday while the County Junior Football Final should be a lively encounter in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
AIB Munster Senior Football QF
Nemo Rangers v Clonmel Commercials on Saturday at Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 7.15pm
It’s a third meeting between these sides in recent years with 1 win apiece. A late goal in Mallow gave Clonmel a win in the final of 2015, a result the Cork champions comfortably reversed in the 2019 decider played in Dungarvan.
Nemo’s win in the county final was without doubt their best performance all season and their record in this championship is remarkable and one they will be determined to maintain, but this is a tricky looking tie.
Clonmel were comfortable winners of the Tipperary Championship - their 20th title - and with a few good weeks uninterrupted preparation behind them, will travel to Cork in confident mood.
Nemo by contrast had a Junior Hurling Championship quarter-final last Sunday, a game in which a fair number of their players were involved, but such is their professionalism they will adapt and be ready for the challenge ahead.
The Tipp champions are a seasoned outfit and have been the dominant team in the Premier county for the last number of years and have experienced and quality players in their team.
Michael Quinlivan is without doubt a huge threat playing in midfield, and as they did in the win over the ‘Barr’s, the Nemo duo of Harry Cripps and Alan O’Donovan will need to produce another top class display to curb this very talented player; if that can be achieved it will certainly curtail Clonmel’s ability to test the Nemo defence.
Colman Kennedy and Jason Lonergan will feature in the attack and will need to be at their best as the Nemo defence were excellent in containing the ‘Barr’s forwards, with Kevin O’Donovan outstanding maintaining the level of performance he has displayed all season with both club and county.
Kieran Histon, Briain Murphy and Stephen Cronin also performed brilliantly, their work rate and distribution were key elements in the win, behind them Micheál Aodh Martin’s double save was a game changer.
Up front is where Nemo really prospered in the county final. Luke Connolly did what he does best and will be a handful for any defender, and Barry O’Driscoll, Conor Horgan and Mark Cronin have the capacity to trouble the Clonmel defence.
Seamus Kennedy is a big player for them while Kevin Fahey also impressed in their win over Upperchurch conceding just 1-2, but they won’t have it as easy this time.
Unlike the county final, Nemo will start as favourites, Clonmel won’t be fazed by that - neither will playing in Páirc Uí Chaoimh trouble them; a few of their players were on the Tipperary team that beat Cork in the Munster Final a couple of years ago.
The last time they met, Nemo ran out easy winners, it could be closer on this occasion but Nemo to win and in the process set up a semi-final against Newcastle West later in the month.
The match is live on C103.
AIB Munster Intermediate Camogie Final
Aghabullogue v Clanmaurice on Saturday in Mallow at 2pm
There appears to be little rest for Aghabullogue, this will be fourth game in as many weeks including some that went to extra-time, but the spirit and resolve they have shown in recent games will once again be needed on Saturday, and no doubt they will deliver.
This is an up and coming Aghabullogue side and even though they suffered a few heartbreaking defeats in finals, they put these behind them to get their just reward by winning the Cork and then just getting the better of Borris-Ileigh in last week’s semi-final. They are now they are just 60 minutes away from adding another ‘cup’ to the trophy cabinet.
They are playing a Clanmaurice side of whom several featured on the Kerry team that acquitted themselves admirably this season. In fact when Kerry won the Premier Junior Championship in 2019 the entire team was made of players from that club, a remarkable feat.
Patrice Diggin is their key player, and will need to be contained as she has the capacity to dominate any game, and gets good support from Sara Murphy, Aofie Behan, Caoimhe Spillane and Jackie Horgan.
Cliona Healy is the big player for Aghabullogue and her consistency all season has been instrumental in their success with Aoife Twomey, Meadhbh Ring, Brid Cotter, Aoife Barrett, Emma Flanagan and Julie Tarrant.
They will also keep their fingers crossed that team captain and centre-back Katie McCarthy will be fit having missed the semi-final.
This has the makings of another real test for Aghabullogue, but that’s a situation they are well used to and really thrive on; they have passed all the examinations to date and could very well do it again on Saturday.
AIB Munster Intermediate Football QF
Kanturk v Kildysart on Saturday at Cusack Park at 1.15pm
It’s a first venture into the Munster championship for the newly crowned Cork champions in a while but with the majority of their players have played at this level in the recent past, it won’t phase them; in fact it will give them the incentive to extend their season.
The manner in which they saw off the challenge of Bantry Blues in the county final was impressive and if they can reproduce that type of display, it will take a big effort from Clare champions to stop their march to the last four.
To be fair they had a good win in the Clare final defeating a fancied Cooraclare, so Kanturk will not want to underestimate their challenge and playing in Ennis will also be a slight advantage.
Kildysart have a number of good and experienced players in their side with Conor Cusack, Kieran Leahy, Keith O’Connor, Emmet McMahon and Conor Moloney among them.
Can they match the level of experience that Kanturk possess, backboned by the Walsh family of brothers and cousins led by the captain Aidan, who was outstanding in the final?
Ronan Cashman is an excellent goalkeeper, while John Browne and Lorcan O’Neill are excellent defenders.
Paul and Aidan should give them an edge in midfield, while the attacking unit with Lorcan McLoughlin and Grantus Bucinkas giving a quartet of Walsh’s able assistance.
This is a very good Kanturk side and they play a good attractive brand of football with the emphasis on attack, if they produce the form of the county final, they should advance to a semi-final meeting with the Kerry champions on 26 November.
Bon Secours County Junior Football Final
Cobh v Kilmurry on Sunday at Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 3.30pm
An interesting final in prospect here and while promotion to the newly created Premier Junior grade for next season has already been secured by both sides, the title and a crack at the Munster championship will give them that extra incentive on Sunday.
It’s been a good year for Cobh and they came close to pulling off an East Cork double, but putting that loss behind them, they were impressive winners over Buttevant in the semi-final, a Buttevant side that many felt would go the distance in this championship.
Equally Kilmurry looked good in their win over Urhan building up a comfortable lead and then having the determination to fend off a strong comeback by the Beara side.
There is a nice look to their team with Padraig Berhanu having an eye for goal while Kevin Barrett, Thomas Collins, James O’Mullane, Liam Wall and David McCarthy all making important contributions.
For a while in the semi-final there was a reluctance to shoot by the Cobh forwards instead opting for the patient build up and to be fair it paid off, getting scores at vital times and that deservedly got them over the line.
Mark O’Rourke, Jeff McCarthy and Patrick Carey are solid defenders, their midfield pairing of Sean Cummins and Fionn Duggan are formidable, while in attack Nathan O’Connell, Diarmuid Kearney and Cian Spriggs really tested the Buttevant rearguard. Crucially the impact off the bench was important, with Sean Hilliard grabbing a vital goal.
A number of factors come into play in finals, not least the conditions at this time of the season, but one thing is sure, the pitch will not be one.
Kilmurry are justifiably favourites and look well equipped to win, but this is a resolute Cobh side and will really test the Mid-Cork champions in a game that is live on C103.