Hurling and ladies football deciders this weekend
While most attention will be on the Co-Op Super Stores Premier Senior Hurling final, the re-fixture between Bride Rovers and Blarney, given the controversy, is sure to attract an extra bit of interest.
It’s a big weekend also for the finalists in the Premier Intermediate and Junior deciders, and all the games are in Páirc Uí Chaoimh and live on C103.
Premier Senior Final
Midleton v Sarsfields on Sunday at 4pm
It’s a first county final appearance for Sars since their loss to Glen Rovers in 2015 while Midleton were champions 2 years ago. Sars last won in 2014, having lost the 2013 final to Sunday’s opponents. These are just some of the narratives around this eagerly awaited decider.
Johnny Crowley is the Sars coach and he has guided them to success before and in a strange twist, it was a conversation with the late Teddy Mac that enticed him back.
“I had spoken to him a few times and he could be persuasive and eventually I gave in, but look it was not a hard decision as I know the club and the players well, and so far it has gone well, except of course sadly Teddy is no longer with us.”
Has his name come up in the pre-match build up? “Briefly but I’m sure it will on Sunday, because he was such an icon around here.”
The campaign has gone well to date and Johnny is pleased. “This is the 4th stage and where we wanted to be and while we have played well and not so well, we know what Midleton will bring and hopefully we match and better them as they are a quality team.”
Michael Keohane is the Midleton manager and agrees it’s a great time for the club with the Intermediate side also in a county final. “Fantastic really, there’s a great buzz around the club and the town itself and everyone is looking forward to the finals.”
Midleton went direct to the semi-final and the 4 week break was welcome. “Without a doubt as we picked up a few injuries and we had time to recover, put in a good block of training and get ourselves ready and so far it all has gone well.”
The injuries have ruled Sam Quirke out, and also out is full-back Luke Dineen who picked up a knee injury in the semi-final, while Killian Murphy is also out for Sars with an injury.
One area that concerns Michael is their slow start to games: “We have been behind in all of our matches at half-time, but we managed to get the job done, so hopefully we can start well on Sunday.”
Like his Sars counterpart, Michael has huge respect for the opposition, “You have to admire Sars, I have been impressed with them all season and I know we will need to be at our very best on Sunday if we are to win.”
Looking at the composition of both teams, there’s quality in every line and medals winners dotted around the field, a bit more on Midleton having won it only 2 years ago.
Conor Lehane remains their go-to man, but Luke Farrell, Tommy O’Connell, Ross O’Regan, Sean O’Leary Hayes, Paul Haughney, Brion Saunderson, Cormac Beausang and Ciarmhac Smith have all shown their class in guiding them to the decider.
En route, they have beaten Glen Rovers, Blackrock and St Finbarrs - no mean feat.
Sars who won the league title earlier in the year looked dead and buried in their semi-final with Imokilly but the resilience they showed will stand to them in what is expected to be another very close game.
Young Cathal McCarthy was a revelation in extra-time hitting 0-5 from play, Aaron Myers, Luke Elliott, Luke Hackett, Craig Leahy and Eoghan Murphy are among the younger brigade in the Sars squad.
Daniel Kearny continues to display all his craft and experience, as did Conor O’Sullivan when introduced, while Jack O’Connor’s pace and eye for goal will be crucial.
As for who’s going to win, it’s a hard one to call, but I have a feeling that given all that has gone on, Sars name might just be on the cup!
Premier Intermediate Final
Castlelyons v Kilworth on Sunday at 2pm
There is a local derby element to this game and has the makings of an intriguing encounter between two well balanced sides.
For Castlelyons it’s another final; they have suffered a couple of agonising defeats in recent years but the spirit remains unbroken and as Colm Spillane points out their sole focus this season has been on this championship. “From the day we got together, our desire was to win this championship, driven by the hurt of recent years and if the truth be known a few of us are not getting any younger,” he said with a smile.
The commitment to the cause is emphasised by Colm’s brother Anthony coming from Dubai where he is now based for every game. “Amazing really, don’t know how he does but just shows his commitment.”
As for Kilworth, Colm knows they will be tough opponents: “No question they are a very hard team to beat and we know we will need to be at our best to win, but our preparation has gone well, we had a good win in the semi-final and we are really looking forward to it.”
Austin O’Hara is a key player for Kilworth and the final has generated huge interest in the parish and surrounding areas. “Absolutely fantastic - the buzz round the club and the area is great for the club and to be heading to the Páirc for a final is massive.”
Having emerged from a tough group, the win over Ballinhassig was huge. “They are a very good team but we got great self belief after that win and we just built on it and here we are.”
Austin knows that the final is going be a real test, “We know what Castlelyons are capable of; they have been there or thereabouts so often in the last few years, and that might give them an edge, but we do not fear them. We will give it our best shot and as you know finals take on a life of their own and we are ready for whatever happens on the day.”
Castlelyons will no doubt start as favourites but there’s a resolve and steel built into this Kilworth side and in Eoin Carey, Brian and Michael Sheehan, and Noel McNamara they have excellent players as they showed in beating a highly fancied Ballincollig side in the semi-final.
Many expected the East Cork side to go direct to the semi-final but a surprise loss to Ballincollig in the final group game changed the dynamics of their season, to their credit they recovered with good wins over Ballymartle and then local rivals Castlemarytr.
It’s an experienced side apart from the Spillane brothers, Niall O’Leary, Alan Fenton, James Kearney and David Morrisson have impressed in all their games to date.
The hurt of the last few years is driving them on, and while it will not be easy, Castlelyons get the nod to finally end the hurt of recent losses.
Premier Junior Final
Erin’s Own v St Catherines on Saturday at 5pm
The first of the all-East Cork finals this weekend is an intriguing one; Erin’s Own are bidding for back to back titles having won the junior title last season and Catherine’s looking to step up a grade after a few years in which they slipped down a few grades.
Denis Walsh is their coach and he was delighted with their semi-final win over Glen Rovers that was hard earned with a few very good individual displays among them excellent goalkeeper Eoin Davis, Darragh Morrison, Sean O’Donoghue, Eoin Condon and Eoghan O’Riordan.
Barryroe were fancied by many to make the final but they had no answer to the men from Caherlag who led from pillar to post and were boosted further by the introduction of Cork senior Robbie O’Flynn and that ensured a comfortable win.
Mark Collins, Cormac and Andrew O’Sullivan, Alan Bowen, James McMahon and the vastly experienced Shane Murphy anchor this Erin’s Own side who are well capable of winning this title.
With it being their first team, Catherine’s will start as favourites but they know enough about Erin’s Own to know that they will have to work really hard to win, but will it be enough?
Senior A semi-final re-fixture
Blarney v Bride Rovers on Saturday at 3pm
Previewing this game is a bit of a nightmare given the circumstances in which it is been played.
Blarney winning their appeal against Bride Rovers’ 16 men on the field probably adds an extra edge to what was already a tasty encounter.
Who has the bigger motivation? You would have to say Bride Rovers as they felt they were actually in the final.
The one thing is that at least it is going to be resolved on the field rather than by a committee.
I’m going to plead the 5th on this one and let’s just hope it’s a good competitive encounter between two evenly matched teams with Newcestown watching developments with interest.
The last of the main county finals goes ahead in MTU on Saturday at 3pm. It’s the Senior A decider Éire Óg and the champions Mourneabbey.
Mourneabbey have been the dominant team in this championship in recent years winning 8 of the last 9 titles with Munster and All-Ireland crowns thrown in for good measure.
There is a view though that Éire Óg are the coming team, given the quality of players they have in their squad.
Both sides came through tight semi-finals and this final could be just as close. The O’Sullivan sisters - although Doireann is an injury doubt and goalkeeper Meabh O’Sullivan is travelling and unavailable - with Ella Jack and Eimear Walsh leading their challenge will be determined to retain their title while equally the Cahalane and Cleary sisters will be just as keen to win a first senior title.
Champions die hard and the craft and experience that Mourneabbey girls have might be the deciding factor.