Finishing line in sight for Cork clubs
After an extremely busy and hectic few weeks and indeed months, the season is drawing to a close, and a couple of more weekends - depending on results - will bring the curtain down on what was the first full split season.
The merits or otherwise are for another day, but as with all discussions, there will be those for and against.
If hurling took centre stage last weekend, the focus now switches to football, with semi-finals in the AIB Munster Intermediate and Junior Championship on Saturday with 1pm starts for both games.
AIB Munster Intermediate Championship
Kanturk v Rathmore in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday at 1pm
Unlike the corresponding grade in hurling, Cork’s record in this championship is poor. Not since Clyda Rovers in 2013 has the title rested on Leeside, in fact it has with a rare exception been won by clubs from our rivals across the county bounds.
Can Kanturk stop the rot? Well they have a very good chance as this is an experienced side, many of whom have played and won, admittedly in hurling, at this level, so that will help.
Another advantage for the Cork champions is that since the exited the hurling championship, the sole concentration has been on football and they are full focussed on extending their season.
In the aftermath of the quarter-final win over Kildysart, manager Padraig Kearns was happy with their display even if they were not at their best. “It was a case of coming up here (Ennis) to get the job done and that we did. Okay we made mistakes at times but it was our first game since the county final and we are into the semi-final that’s all we could control today.”
At the time Padraig did not know who they would be playing as the Kerry final was on the following day but the manager was looking forward to it. “Well I will head to Tralee tomorrow and have a good look, but whoever it is, will be tough but look anytime you play a Kerry team in a Munster semi-final, it's is something to savour and we will prepare as best we can and be ready.”
The Kerry champions won a tense decider by 1-13 to 0-14 over An Gaelthacht to regain their senior status 3 years after losing with inter-county stars Shane Ryan and Paul Murphy key players for them. In fact they scored the winning points, with Ryan lining out at corner-forward.
Of course there is more to them then this talented duo; Chrissy Spiers 1-4 in the final, while John Moynihan clipped over 0-4, Kenneth O’Keeffe, Alan Dineen, Brendan O’Keeffe, Brian Friel and James Darmody are key players for Rathmore.
Kanturk though are a very good team and well capable of racking up big scores as they did in the county final win over Bantry Blues and again in the win over Kildysart. That said, this will be a step up in quality.
As ever the Walshs will be key, particularly Aidan if he can give them an edge in midfield, it will be crucial. Lorcan and John McLoughlin, Grantus Bucinkas, Darren Browne and Lorcan O’Neill are well versed in the art of winning.
Rathmore might very well start as favourites, but Kanturk know how to win and that might be enough to get them over the line.
AIB Munster Junior Championship
Kilmurry v Thurles-Sarsfields in Templetouhy on Saturday at 1pm
Fresh from winning the county title their first in a long time, and of course the celebrations that rightly followed, Kilmurry have now turned their attention to what is their first venture at provincial level.
The newly crowned Cork champions make the trip to Tipp to face a club that are more renowned for their exploits on the hurling field but are enjoying their run in this championship and given their rich history, they will prove tough opponents for Kilmurry.
Kilmurry were comfortable winners over Cobh in the county final and there is a nice balance to their team.
Jason McDonnell is a competent custodian fronted by solid defenders in Fionn Warren, William Ronan and Tomas Collins, while their midfield pairing of Kyle Kelleher and James O’Mullane gave them a vital and winning edge last time out.
Padraig Brehanu got the vital goal in that game with Liam Wall, Rory Duggan and David Mc are Carthy all effective attackers.
Thurles defeated Clonoulty-Rossmore in the Tipperary final and followed that with a victory over Clare side Liscannor in the quarter-final winning that game by 1-9 to 0-7.
Paddy Creedon is their captain and with former county hurler Michael Cahill - he bagged 1-1 in the county final - Liam McCormack, Kevin Bracken, Henry Fogarty and Kieran Costello all impressing in their run to date.
Tipperary club football has improved a lot in recent years, look at Clonmel’s success, and that should ensure that Kilmurry will approach this game in the right frame of mind, do that and they should prevail.
All-Ireland LF Junior Championship Quarter-Final
Naomh Aban v Castleblayney-Faughs on Sunday in Ballyvourney at 1.30pm
It’s been an exciting and winning season for the mid-Cork club who added a Munster title to the Cork title won some weeks ago and now are just 60 minutes away from an All-Ireland Final appearance, that would be some way to round off a memorable year.
First though, it’s the Ulster champions who are sure to prove formidable opposition. Last weekend they were in Maastricht beating Belgium in a quarter-final on a 2-19 to 5-2 scoreline - that’s some travelling not to mind expense in these challenging times.
What that will have done of course is to bond the team together and having won on the road, they will be determined to do so again.
Jodie McQuilligan is their big player - the full-forward will need to be contained if the Cork ladies are to progress, while Niamh Cavanagh, Sheena McKenna, Emer Ruddin, Orlaith Maguire and Sally Moloney anchor their team.
Naomh Aban dug out a narrow win over Oola in the Munster Final with Annie Maher, Muireann Dineen, Rosie Corkery, Amy McDonagh, Grainne Lucey, Collen Phelan, Grace Murphy and Lydia McDonagh have been central to their success all season and they will need to be at their best again if they are to win this one.