Marc Sheehan, Chairman County Board;Isabel Keane, 96FM; Finbarr McCarthy, 96/C103FM; award winner Kevin O’Donovan; Ber Allen, Chairperson Nemo Rangers; Tom Tobin Rochestown Park Hotel and Jerry Walsh County Board. Photo: Tony O'Connell

Ballygiblin eyeing a return to HQ

In January of this year Ballygiblin narrowly lost the Al-Ireland Junior Hurling final; now they stand just 60 minutes away from another trip to Croke Park and a tilt at the title again.

Wexford and Leinster champions Horeswood stand in their way. They meet in the semi-final in the Fraher Field, Dungarvan on Sunday with a 1pm start.

Manager Ronan Dwane was impressed with Horeswood in last weekend’s provincial final. They trailed at one stage by 3-9 to 0-10, but proceeded to outscore Commericals from Dublin by 1-8 to 0-2 in the closing quarter to win a thriller by 1-18 to 3-11.

“They showed commendable spirit to win that game, a late goal proving the vital score, but they are a good hurling team and we will need to be at our best to win this game.”

As for his own side’s preparation, Ronan jokingly said, “at least we don’t have the distraction of a wedding this weekend, but it didn’t do us any harm in the Munster Final.”

On a serious note Ronan is happy: “Ah look you would have to be. Naturally we celebrated the win but after a few days got back to business and all is well ahead of Sunday.”

Ronan is quick to emphasise that this opportunity will not come around again. “Next year we are playing Intermediate so that is another huge incentive but the chance to play in an All-Ireland Final two years in a row is a huge incentive, and of course to atone for that heartbreaking loss is also driving the team.”

Looking at the Horeswood side, Ballygiblin will need to impose themselves on the game from the off, as the Wexford side will come into this game with huge momentum on the back of their win last week.

Cathal Parker got the vital goal, while Conor Foley, Sean Nolan, Jamie Myler, Adam Harris and Danny Byrne all made important contributions both on the scoring and defensive side.

This though is a very experienced and solid Ballygiblin side and the fact that they are unbeaten in championship since the Croke Park loss is testimony to that, which brings with it a confidence and belief that they can go one step further.

Defensively they are strong and capable of shutting out most attacking units. Lorcan Finn and captain Fionn Herlihy in the full-back-line, while Mark Keane at centre-back is showing the benefit of the inter-county experience in such a key position.

Ryan Donegan and Killian Roche gives them a platform in midfield, which the attack usually prospers on, all 6 are scorers and creators on different days.

Shane Betson, got 3-3 last day, 24 hours after his wedding, what a story that was, add in Darragh Flynn, Cathal O’Mahoney and Sean O’Sullivan it is easy to see why they generally start as favourites.

There’s is a strong, confident and composed unit and while Horeswood will test them, I would expect Ballygiblin to be enjoying their Christmas knowing that Croke Park beckons on the weekend of 14/15 January.

Easkey from Sligo and Kilburn Gaels from London contest the other semi-final in Navan also on Sunday.

Best of luck also to Naomh Ában who play Salthill-Knocknacarra in the Current All-Ireland Ladies Football Junior Club Final, this game fell victim to the weather last Sunday and now goes ahead on Saturday in Cahir with a 1pm start.

November award for Kevin

Nemo Rangers’ victory in the county senior football final over their great rivals St Finbarr’s was acknowledged on Tuesday when outstanding defender Kevin O’Donovan was presented with the 96FM/C103 GAA Sports Star of the month award for November in association with the Rochestown Park Hotel.

Kevin was delighted to be honoured and in accepting the award paid tribute to be his team mates. “I would not be here were it not for the lads, we worked hard all year got great support from the management and the club.”

Kevin kept a tight rein on the ‘Barr’s key forward Steven Sherlock and even managed a point himself. Laughing, he said: “I did, but Steven is a great player who I know well from Cork and things just fell my way that day.”

County Board Chairman Marc Sheehan in congratulating Kevin said: “It is a well deserved accolade as you have been excellent for both club and county all year and of course with it being Nemo’s centenary year, it made it extra special.”

Marc also thanked the sponsors for their continued support. “These awards are very prestigious and much sought after and I would like to thank 96FM/C103 for not only these awards but for the excellent coverage they give our games all year round and of course the Rochestown Park Hotel who are also wonderful supporters of Cork GAA.”

Kieran McGeary of 96FM and Tom Tobin of Rochestown Park Hotel also congratulated Kevin on his award and Nemo Rangers on both their win and the celebration of their centenary year.

The function was attended by Jerry Walsh, Cork County Board, Isabel Keane, 96FM; Nemo Rangers manager Paul O’Donovan; Chairperson Bernadette Allen and several players among them Mark Cronin, Barry O’Driscoll and captain Luke Connolly.

The overall winner the awards, now in the 19th year, will be announced at the gala banquet on 10 February at which GAA President Larry McCarthy is the guest of honour.

County Convention

It was a tame enough affair, with the motion on restoring minor to U18 taking up most of the time, and eventually passing the required 60%, now we await developments at congress.

As ever the championship draws proved interesting. In hurling, champions St Finbarr’s will be expected to progress for a group that includes Sars, Newtownshandrum and Kanturk.

Group A gets the ‘group of death’ title- it includes recent winners Glen Rovers (2015 and 2016), Blackrock (2020) and Midleton (2022) are joined by Bishopstown, while the final group has Erin’s Own, Charleville, Douglas and newly promoted Fr O’Neills.

Football has another almost West Cork group featuring Castlehaven, Carbery Rangers, Clonakilty and Valley Rovers.

Nemo Rangers will begin the defence of their title against Ballincollig, with Eire Og and Carrigaline completing the four.

St Finbarr’s are joined by by city rivals Douglas, senior A winners St Michaels and Mallow in their group.

No doubt the speculation is underway and many teams in both codes will be under new management for the coming season which adds another layer of intrigue to the championship.

One other matter that was discussed was the failure of the executive to present medals to the winning under 19 teams. Frank O’Connell of St Michael’s voiced his disapproval, yet received no support from those in attendance.

Thankfully the executive have seen the error of their ways and the successful clubs were advised on Tuesday that they would after all, receive 21 medals per team.

It’s the right decision but it should not have come to this.

Final column of 2022

As this is my final offering for 2022, just a few thanks first of all to Brian and Niamh Aine for their patience on a Tuesday night waiting for this to drop.

To the clubs, players and officials across the county for their co-operation before and after matches win or lose, it is greatly appreciated.

Inter-county players and management in hurling, football, camogie and Ladies Football, again your help at all times is something that makes my task all that easier and again I really appreciate the courtesy I am afforded.

Thanks to the various board officers in all codes for your help and also to the office staff in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

It’s been a year of highs and lows but as they say, ‘we go again in ’23’.

Thinking too of the many Gaels who are no longer with us, so many departed, we remember them and their families at this time of the year.

Enjoy the Christmas and hopefully the New Year will be rewarding and special to everyone.

Corcaigh abú!