Two hurling finals coming up this weekend
Time was when the first Sunday in December in Mallow was the focal point for the AIB Munster Junior Hurling and Football Finals and invariably there would be Cork involvement in both.
Well there are 2 Cork clubs in this year’s finals but only one goes ahead on Sunday while in the other big game, Páirc Uí Rinn hosts the County Junior hurling Final replay.
It is somewhat ironic that Ballygiblin are in the Munster Final again one year after winning the county title, while this year’s replay goes ahead and the winners won’t get the opportunity to play in the provincial championship!
This of course is a result of a change to the Cork structure which now sees, in this case Ballygiblin, the Premier Junior champions participating in the Munster championship. A bit complicated I know, but it has been a long year!
AIB Munster Junior Hurling Final
Ballygiblin v St Kieran’s Limerick on Sunday in Mallow at 1pm
“A very big physical team, they play senior football in Limerick and are a good team.” The words of Ballygiblin coach Ronan Dwane on Sunday’s opponents St Kierans.
Ronan also saw their semi-final win over Clare champions The Banner in Ennis and was suitably impressed: “Very much so, it’s always hard to win in Ennis and they dug out a big win and we will need to be at our best to win.”
Equally Ronan is happy where his own team are right now after a good win in the semi-final. “I am, we played well - much better than we did in the quarter-final and that was pleasing and hopefully we can maintain that on Sunday and as I said we will need to be.”
It has been a long 18 months for Ballygiblin but that is not an issue as Ronan explains: “It’s great for the club and the area, It has galvanised everyone as it did last year and I know they will be behind us again on Sunday.”
Playing into December is also not a problem. “Absolutely it’s great; difficult with training at times but when you are playing this late in the season, it means you are in big games and that was our aim all year.”
St Kieran’s to have had a long season are in good shape heading into this game; first of all they were crowned West Limerick Champions beating Drom-Broadford in the final and followed that with county success before their semi-final win in Munster.
That game went to extra-time and a very late point by substitute Donie Nolan gave them the narrow win.
Key player for them has been captain Ian Mackessy left that game with an injury but they are hopeful that he will be fit for Sunday. He would be a huge loss, he is also their free taker, landing 0-6 in that game.
Others to impress in that win James Muckell, Brendan McCarthy, Cillian Ambrose, Paudie McCarthy, Darragh Tracey, Eoin McEnery and Cormac Mann in what is a very balanced side.
This will be their biggest test yet as Ballygiblin are determined to go one step further than last year and that motivation is huge and reflected in the way they have played in all their games to date and appear to be getting better with each outing.
Mark Keane anchors the team at centre-back, while Fionn Herlihy the team captain, Lorcan Finn and Barry Coffee are solid defenders.
Their midfield pairing of Ryan Donegan and Killian Roche has given them a vital edge in most games and with Sean O’Sullivan, Joseph O’Sullivan, Darragh Flynn, Cathal O’Mahony and Shane Beston top quality forwards they will test any defence and have bettered most.
Ballygiblin will start as favourites against a side that lost to another North Cork team Kildorrery in the 2012 Final and they could very well suffer a similar fate to another Avondhu side in this year’s decider.
The winners will advance to the All-Ireland semi-final on the weekend of 17/18 December where the Leinster champions - either Commercials from Dublin or Horsewood from Wexford face each other on Saturday in Wexford Park.
Co-Op Super Stores County Junior Hurling Final replay
Kilshannig v Erin’s Own on Sunday in Páirc Uí Rinn at 4pm
The drawn encounter two weeks ago was a thriller from start to finish with two evenly matched sides level on several occasions and at the end, a draw was probably the fairest result.
Erin’s Own even though it’s their second team, have proved very hard to beat all season and expect another committed and determined display from a very experienced group with a number having played at the highest level.
Mark Collins is their chief scorer and he gets excellent support from Pat Fitzgerald, Shane Murphy, Sean Power, Riain O’Regan, Ger O’Mahony, James McMahon and Tom Foley.
The two week gap might actually benefit Kilshannig as it’s been a hectic time for them recently with the majority of their players having been central to their win in the Intermediate Football Championship, and their double ambitions are still on track.
The O’Hanlon brothers Killian and Eanna are big players for them as are Kieran Twomey, Darragh O’Sullivan, Jack Twomey, Paddy Walsh whose late free forced the replay, and Eoin O’Sullivan.
Replays rarely go the way of the drawn game, conditions will again play a part and both sides will hope the pitch can take two games this time of the year. Roscrea and Monaleen play the Munster Intermediate Final there at 1pm, although to be fair it’s in great nick right now.
It’s a hard one to call, especially given how tight the last game panned out; a goal or two might make the difference, it might even take extra-time to resolve, but have slight and a very slight one at that, for Kilshannig to shade it.
If it’s as good as the last game, few will complain and it’s live on C103.
There are two more finals next weekend which will see the curtain come down on the season - Kilmurry face Fossa and the Clifford brothers in the Munster Junior Football final next Sunday with the venue to be confirmed later in the week.
The second decider will be a historic one for the Junior Ladies Footballers from Naomh Abán when they play Salthill-Knocknacarra on Sunday in the All-Ireland Final on the back of their great win over Castleblayney-Faugh’s before a huge crowd in the very impressive Páirc Íosagáin in Ballyvourney last Sunday.
Congrats to the 7 Cork camogie players, Joanne Casey, Lauren Homan, Ashling Moloney, Saoirse McCarthy, Ashling Thompson, Libby Coppinger and Katrina Mackey on being honoured with All-Stars awards last Saturday night in Croke Park.
Well deserved by all but really tough that Laura Hayes missed out. The St Catherine’s player was one of Cork’s most consistent players in both league and championship, but no doubt her day will come.