Football finals take centre stage
There are four more finals down for decision this weekend, with the Bon Secours Football Championship the dominant theme although there is an intriguing Co-Op Superstores Senior A replay, as it seems Blarney and Newcestown’s season are never ending!
All four games are in Páirc Uí Chaoimh and all are live on C103.
Premier Senior Football
Nemo Rangers v Castlehaven on Sunday at 3pm
It’s a 4th final meeting between these two excellent teams in recent years who along with the ‘Barr’s have been the most consistent sides in the championship.
Nemo won the last two while the ‘Haven were successful in 2013 - also the last time the Andy Scannell Cup made its way to Castlehaven country.
Manager James McCarthy says being in the final is huge: “Massive for the club and the parish and the support our team gets is tremendous and this place will be very quiet on Sunday I can tell you.”
James is delighted the way the team has played to date. “There has been periods in games where we dropped off a bit but recovered and we have finished all our games well.”
As for the display in the semi-final win over the ‘Barr’s was it their best? “I suppose you could say it was and it had to be because the ‘Barr’s are a very good team but we fully focussed that day from the start and played some great stuff.”
The final though, well it’s Nemo and James knows enough about the champions and what they bring. “They’re a superb club - all you have to do is look at their record to see that. We respect them but don’t fear them. Our preparation has been good, no injuries we are looking forward to Sunday and we will give it our best shot, and if it’s good enough we will be thrilled, if not, we will shake their hands and move on.”
Paul O’Donovan is in his 6th year as Nemo boss looking for his 5th title which is some record but that’s for another day; all the focus is on Sunday. “Records mean very little around this club and while it’s nice, it is the next game that matters and that is Sunday against a very good team.”
Paul was impressed with their semi-final win over the ‘Barr’s. “They were clinical and never let up for the 60 plus minutes and we will certainly look to stop them getting the same type of start on Sunday (goal after 25 seconds)”
Nemo’s form has been patchy especially in the group phase but they would appear to be coming good at just the right time. “We were good against Ballincollig the first day and really didn’t play as well again until the semi-final with Duhallow so hopefully our timing is right.”
Curtailing the much vaunted Castlehaven attack will be a priority for Paul. “it certainly will as they can be lethal but our backs have been very good all year and I would have every confidence in them to do the job.”
“Thankfully everyone is fit and raring to go and looking forward to what we are about here in Nemo - playing in county finals.”
It has the makings of a cracking final given the quality that both sides possess particularly in attack.
Brian and Michael Hurley, Jack Cahalane, Cathal Maguire for the ‘Haven; Luke Connolly, Barry O’Driscoll, Paul Kerrigan and Conor Horgan for Nemo.
Other big players on view will be Damien Cahalane, Mark Collins, Conor Cahalane and Rory Maguire all central to Castlehaven’s challenge, while Kevin O’Donovan, Kieran Histon, Stephen Cronin and Conor Horgan have all delivered when needed for the champions.
Both goalkeepers have performed admirably all season - Micheál Aodh Martin is a model of consistency while since he was drafted in, Darragh Cahalane has hardly put a foot wrong.
Nemo’s defence hold the key; they will have learned from the ‘Barr’s game and they have been excellent all year. They will be given specific instructions on who to mark and if they can curtail the twin threat of the Hurley brothers, 0-12 between them 0-9 from play in the semi-final, much of the edge will be removed from the ‘Haven’s attack.
That though is easier said than done, these guys are class forwards and on their day can be hard to contain.
Picking a winner is not easy, Castlehaven have been far more impressive in reaching the final, but then so were the ‘Barr’s last year and look what happened that day.
One other factor is Nemo’s record in finals, since winning their 1st title in 1972, they have only suffered defeat in just 3, yes 3 finals, and they are going for their 24th title - that is an incredible record.
Form points to Castlehaven, finals though take on a life of their own and Nemo have made an art out of winning them, and with that I’m going to give a nod to the champions to retain their crown.
Premier Intermediate Football
Bantry Blues v Cill Na Martra on Sunday at 1pm
Another intriguing encounter between two sides that have impressed in reaching this final, both with nicely balanced sides with good players in the key areas.
Cill Na Martra are sweating on the availability of key player Tadhg Corkery who has an appeal against the straight red card he received in the semi-final, last night (Wednesday); it was due to be heard last week but the storm intervened and the hearing was deferred.
Corkery’s absence could be damaging for the Gealthacht as he is a big player for them, as are Dano Dineen (1-4 in the semi-final win over Castletownbere), John Furey who won a hurling medal with Aghabullogue last Sunday, Finen O’Faolain, Maidhci O’Duinnin, Damien O hUrdail and Gearoid O’Goillidhe.
Cill Na Martra are managed by Kerryman John Evans and he is well versed in the art of winning big games and this is a really big one for both teams.
Bantry of course are a mission to atone for their loss in last year’s final in which they never really got to the level required and were well beaten by a Kanturk side that themselves had lost the finals of ’20 and ’21. Can the West Cork side continue the trend by winning this one?
They too have impressed in reaching the final and overcame Kilshanning by the narrowest of margins 1-12 to 1-11 in a cracker of semi-final, boosted by the return of Ruairi Deane, the Cork ace missed a group game and the quarter-final win over Nemo Rangers through injury.
That they achieved those wins without him is a measure of confidence within the squad, but with Deane playing - he got the vital goal in the semi-final - they are a much better team.
Arthur Coakley is another top class forward, he too has delivered when the need was greatest, with Jack O’Neill, Mark Og O’Sullivan, Paddy Cronin and Dara McCarthy all offering good support.
Like all finals not an easy one to call, but Bantry look set to atone for last year’s loss, especially if Deane can deliver which he usually does.
Premier Junior Football
St Finbarr’s v Kilmurry on Saturday at 3pm
12 months on from winning the junior title, Kilmurry are just 60 minutes away from back to back promotions which would be some achievement.
St Finbarr’s 2nd team provide the opposition and that in itself is an achievement given that their seniors went all the way to the semi-final, a clear indication that there are a lot of talented footballers in Togher.
They also have the added incentive that the cup for Sunday’s winners commemorates the late Doney Hurley a man who gave sterling service to the ‘Barr’s on and off the field. It would be a fitting tribute, if its first port of call was Togher on Saturday night.
That though will not be a concern for Kilmurry as they have been very impressive throughout this campaign going direct to the semi-final and then repeating their county final win of last year over Cobh.
Kyle Kelleher, Joe Ryan, Liam Wall, Kevin Barrett, William Ronan, James O’Mullane and Rory Duggan have anchored their challenge all year and they will be well primed to complete the campaign in style.
Michael Shields, a warrior of many a ‘Barr’s battle is still doing the business for the Togher lads with the experienced Eoin Comyns, Denis O’Brien and Alan McCarthy also adding their craft and knowledge to the younger members of the team.
Olan Murphy and Cian Madden both made important contributions in their narrow 0-10 to 0-8 win over battling Urhan side in the semi-final.
The ‘Barr’s have a very experienced side on duty, but you feel that the wide open spaces of the Páirc might suit Kilmurry better.
Irrespective of the result they will still represent Cork in the Munster Club Championship but they would rather do so as champions and they should.
Co-Op Superstores Senior A replay
Blarney v Newcestown on Saturday at 5pm
Is there any end to the drama and excitement in this championship, or to the season for both of these clubs?
And for Newcestown, whatever the outcome their football final is now gone back to 11/12 November, much to the annoyance of Doheny’s who it appears were not even consulted about the change. According to reports, it was Newcestown who informed them - surely not the right way to do your business.
A draw was probably a fitting outcome and the replay will be just as close; it might even take extra-time to resolve.
Will all the games take its toll on Newcestown’s dual players, will the events of the last few weeks finally get to Blarney? Saturday should provide the answer.
Blarney are still favoured by many to win, myself included, but you write Newcestown off at your peril, so we will let this one takes its course and watch on with interest.
Mourneabbey embark on yet another Munster Senior campaign when they make the trip to Ennis on Sunday to play Banner Ladies in the semi-final with a 2pm start; they should prevail in this game despite a few worrying injury concerns.
Congrats to Aghabullogue on their win last Sunday, they are now in the hunt for a double with the football final to come, and it ended a tough week for Midleton on and off the field. We wish all in that town all the best in their endeavours to recover, the level of spirit shown all last week will see them through.
Similarly the Sars’ camogie team gave that club a huge lift after their traumatic experience by winning their 3rd senior title with a well deserved win over the champions and 3 in a row seeking Seandun, completing a unique county double with their senior hurlers and they now both embark on Munster campaigns.
Congrats also to Blackrock who were crowned Intermediate camogie champions and join the senior ranks for 2024, and before that, they face a trip to Kerry to play the champions from the Kingdom Clanmaurice on 18 November.
Finally Paul O’Keeffe this week stepped down as Manager of St Finbarr’s Senior Football team after 5 years at the helm. Paul was an absolute pleasure to deal with at all times, win or lose and I wish him the best of luck for the future.