Finals continue as Munster club championships begin
The big game locally on Sunday is the Bon Secours Intermediate Football Final with Mitchelstown facing double chasing Aghabullogue. 2 Cork teams begin their Munster club campaigns, while the Junior A hurling and football championship quarter-finals also take place. Let’s hope the weather allows for all these games to go ahead.
Intermediate Football Final
Mitchelstown v Aghabullogue on Sunday in Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 2pm
Two weeks ago the Mid-Cork club were crowned hurling champions and on Sunday the majority of the same players will backbone their bid for a double, while also hoping to atone for last year’s loss at the same stage to Kilshannig.
The opposition have also had a long season as they were involved with Ballygiblin who were in action right up until January winning the All-Ireland Junior title.
Both sides took the direct route to the semi-final with Aghabullogue comfortable winners 2-12 to 0-10 winners over Dromtarriffe, while Adrigole took Mitchelstown to extra-time before the North Cork side prevailed by 0-14 to 0-12.
Paul Ring is one of the dual players with Aghabulloge and he is looking forward to the final. “We had a two week run in after winning the hurling and we are ready to go. Naturally we celebrated for a few days but look we feel we didn’t do ourselves justice in last year’s final and we want to atone for that.”
Paul who has featured with the Cork senior footballers knows that Mitchelstown will be a tough test: “They have some very good players with big match experience, but that can be said of any team in a final, but we are where we want to be at this time of the season.”
Killian Roche like Paul is a dual player and the fact that Ballygiblin went out early has helped. “While we were disappointed with that, at least we had the football championship to focus on and that helped. We had a very tough semi-final that we dug out a big win and that will help.”
Aghabullogue on the hunt of a double will be hugely motivated. “That’s true but we have our own motivation and we have had a few disappointments in football ourselves and we are determined to rectify that, but finals are a law of themselves but we are ready to go.”
The return and availability of Mark Keane is a huge boost to Mitchlelstown as is the fitness of Cathal O’Mahoney whose injury had ruled him out for most of the championship - his 0-5 in the semi-final was a factor in their win.
Sean Walsh, Shane Beston, Patrick Magee and Ryan Donegan are big players for them, while they will also hope that Darragh Flynn and captain Shane Cahill are fit both having missed the semi-final.
Matthew Bradley, Evan O’Sullivan, John Corkery, Brendan O’Sullivan, Adam Murphy, Shane Tarrant and Tom Long have anchored the Aghabullogue challenge all season and they will be key players again on Sunday.
Not easy predicting a winner, but the incentive of completing a unique double might just tilt the tie Aghabullogue’s way.
The match is live on C103.
AIB Munster Club Hurling QF
Sarsfields v Ballygunner on Sunday in Walsh Park at 1.30pm
It’s been a difficult period for Sars, from the high of winning the county title and then 4 days later having their facilities devastated by the floods, as manager John Crowley explained.
“Incredible really we were in the midst of our celebrations and boy, were they good, when the floods hit, but look there’s a bigger picture here and hopefully all those affected will recover.”
John was also at pains to point out the response from clubs in the county was “absolutely fantastic. The phone calls and messages I was getting and our Chairman goes to show the goodwill that’s out there and the GAA showed exactly why it’s a special organisation.”
John also thanked all those that offered help: “ We are very grateful to all clubs, we trained in Brian Dillons and then the County Board gave us Páirc Uí Rinn and our thanks to all.”
As for the preparation for Sunday: “Well the first week was going to be quiet anyway” - said with a smile - “but look we got back into have had some very good sessions and we are happy where we are now after all the disruption.”
John knows though that Sunday is a huge test: “We are playing one of the most consistent teams in the championship, winners a couple of years ago of the All-Ireland and what is it 57 games unbeaten I think in Waterford? We are under no illusions of the task facing us.”
One aspect that might work in Sars’ favour is that it is all of 9 weeks since Ballygunner played a competitive match. “It might but they are so experienced and been down this path before they know exactly how to deal with it.”
John is looking forward to what Sunday will bring. “It will test us for sure but we are going out to represent our club and our county, we have prepared well, we will give it our best shot and see where that will bring us, that is all you can ask for at that this time of the year.”
Time was when Cork clubs dominated this championship but that day is long gone. It was 2009 when Newtownshandrum were the last Cork club to win it, while not since Glen Rovers in 2016 has a Cork club actually reached the final.
That of course will not really concern this group although a good few of them will have competed at this level before and know what is required.
Conor O’Sullivan and Daniel Kearney are among them while it will be step up in quality for the likes of Luke Elliott, Jack O’Connor, Aaron Myers, Cathal McCarthy, Daniel Hogan and Cian D’Arcy.
Ballygunner are laced with quality all over the field - 10 county titles in a row is testimony to this. Dessie Hutchinson, Pauric O’Mahony, Stephen O’Keeffe, Philip O’Mahony, Kevin Mahony and Peter Hogan are all well versed in the art of winning.
Sars will no doubt give it their best, but it’s a big ask, and with the reigning All-Ireland champions (Ballyhale-Shamrocks) beaten in the Kilkenny final, Ballygunner will sense this is an ideal opportunity to claim a 2nd club title. They should make a winning start in their bid for a 3rd Munster crown on the bounce.
AIB Munster Junior Hurling Championship QF
St Catherine’s v Ardmore on Saturday in Fraher Field at 1.30pm
Having lost the Cork county final, St Catherine’s must pick themselves up for a Munster campaign they would much prefer to be heading into as champions.
Of course they could and hopefully will adopt the attitude that we are better than how we performed against Erin’s Own and this represents an ideal opportunity to claim a title, in their 3rd time representing Cork at provincial level.
Cork also have an excellent record in this championship, Ballygiblin won in last year.
Catherine’s had a very good Cork campaign, and their display in the final, against a very good Erin’s Own team, was not reflective of their season.
Daniel Mangan, a big player for them got injured in the county final and if he is out, as looks likely, it will weaken their challenge but they do have good players in Eoghan O’Riordan, Kyle Wallace, Shane Cotter, Rory Galvin, Brian Mulcahy and excellent goalkeeper Eoin Davis.
Ardmore defeated Roanmore 2-16 to 0-12 in the Waterford final back in Septemaber and how they will have prepared since might be a factor, and of course it’s not so long ago they were in the top tier of hurling in the Deise County, and they were All-Ireland champions at this level back in 2017 and had a surprise win over Kilrossanty in the Western Divisional Final.
The Tipperary Champions Ballinahinch await the winners in the semi-final, let’s hope St Catherines have put the Cork defeat behind them to win this one.
County Junior A Championships
There are six quartear-finals, equally divided between hurling and football down for decision. Imokilly champions Carrig Na bFhear have a bye into the hurling semi-final with Seandun champions Mayfield in a similar position in football.
Two of the hurling quarter-finals are on Saturday. Glantane is the venue for the meeting of Harbour Rovers and Newmarket at 3pm, while at 6.30pm in Páirc Uí Rinn, Nemo Rangers with a number of senior footballers in their side play first time Carrigdhoun champions Belgooly trained by Seanie McGrath.
The final game is that between Clonakilty and Ballinora on Sunday in Newcestown at 2pm.
In football, all 3 games are on Sunday with a double-header in Páirc Uí Rinn. At 2pm it’s Kilavullen and Ballygarvan then at 4pm Canovee play Lisgoold, while at 2pm in Macroom, Castlemagner meet Barryroe.
All these matches are results on the day with the semi-finals scheduled for the following weekend.
All four finals played last weekend went to the wire and 3 of them gave huge entertainment, with the senior decider been a pretty dour affair but that won’t trouble Castlehaven who inflicted a rare defeat in a final on Nemo Rangers and won their 6th title. On the day it was well deserved.
Along with Cill Na Martra, they will face Clare opposition on Sunday week in the Munster Club championships and both will enjoy home advantage and given that both have stands at their grounds, it should make for a wonderful occasion, if as expected, they can play the games at their own venues.
Well done also to the Newcestown hurlers - what an amazing club, and the St Finbarr’s Premier Junior Footballers on winning the Donal Hurley Cup at the first time of asking. I’m sure the Hurley family were very proud that their late father who gave the ‘Barr’s outstanding service on and off the field was fittingly honoured in the Páirc last Saturday.
Special shout out to Michael Shields who was excellent in the final, on completing the set of junior, intermediate and senior medals, nice way to end the season.