Munster club semi-finals this weekend
With the County Board’s championship programme almost complete - just the Junior A and B hurling and football to complete - the focus this weekend is very much on Munster club with 4 semi-finals scheduled in hurling and camogie.
AIB Munster Intermediate Final
Castlelyons v Crotta O’Neill’s on Sunday at 1.30pm in Mountcoal Co. Kerry
It’s a huge day for the newly crowned Cork champions as they embark on their first venture into Munster and are they really looking forward to it.
Selector Brendan Hoare says: “It is a big day for us as a club; naturally we celebrated the county for a good few days especially as we had lost a few finals over the years and we wanted to enjoy the moment, and we did.
“We then decided let’s go for this as it might not come around again and our coach Noel (Furlong) got the lads back into training. They have all bought into it and we have trained hard for the last few weeks.”
Brendan knows though that the Kerry champions, and they are the senior winners in the Kingdom, will be tough opposition. “No question about it; we saw their win over Ferrybank at the weekend and they played very well, but this is what you expect at this level and will be ready for it.”
Crotta, appearing at this level for the first time since 1968, were convincing winners of their QF against the Waterford champions and that will give them a boost as will the competitive outing which might give them an edge in terms of match sharpness as against Castlelyons who have not played in 3 weeks.
Shane Nolan was their main scorer with 0-11 - 0-8 from frees, 1 from a 65, and 2 from play while Jordan Conway, Cillian Trant, Rory O’Mahony, Adam O’Sullivan, Sean Weir and Barry O’Mahony all made important contributions in what was a comfortable win.
This though is a very experienced Castlelyons team and now that they are finally champions, the pressure to some extent is off, apart from the pressure they will apply themselves to extend their season and add to the trophy collection.
There is a nice balance in the team. Jack Barry is fronted by a competent defence which includes Colm Barry, Colm Spillane and Niall O’Leary.
James Kearney and Peter Roche will hopefully give them an edge in midfield thus allowing the attack to garner the scores. Alan Fenton, Leon Doocey, David Morrison and Anthony Spillane (if he, as he has done all year flys in from Dubai for the game) are all top quality scorers and creators of scores.
Playing at home, although not their own venue, might help Crotta - a club that are passionate about their hurling - but you can’t help feeling that this is a step up in standard and quality for them, and it might be just too much, and for that the nod goes to Castlelyons to win.
AIB Munster Junior Hurling SF
St Catherine’s v Ballinahinch (Tipperary) on Saturday at 1.30pm in Páirc Uí Rinn
Having put the county final well behind them with an excellent win over Ardmore St Catherine’s, manager Denis Walsh was thrilled.
“Absolutely delight with the performance. 1st half was a bit sluggish but just before the break we got it together and really controlled the 2nd half and it’s great now to be looking forward to a semi-final.”
Denis also explained their approach to the game and the Munster campaign. “We felt we did not do ourselves justice in the county final and we said why wait until next August to try and remedy that, let’s use this championship as a means to get it out of our system because, with no disrespect to Erin’s Own, we are better than the county final display.”
They also had to contend with a few absentees through injury among them ace forward Daniel Mangan, who is out for the foreseeable future. “We did but in fairness the lads that came in did a great job and that’s good for us going forward.”
As a club Denis said they are proud to represent Cork, “no question we are and we will give it our best shot, it keeps our season alive and we will not go away and prepare for Ballinahinch and with the game been in Cork that will help us.”
The Tipperary side are also not the county champions. They were beaten in the final, 3-18 to 2-11 by Clonoulty-Rossmore, and have had very little activity since that defeat in early October, so how they will respond to that loss could shape the contest.
Darragh McGrath, Karl Kelly, Cathal Ryan are key players for them while Davey Gleeson (1-3) and Brendan Ryan (0-6) in the county final are the main threat in attack.
Catherine’s though are a well balanced side. Eoin Davis is a solid goalkeeper and well able to land long range frees as well; Fionn O’Connell, Conor Hegarty and Kyle Wallace anchor the defence.
Up front Rory Galvin, Eoin Condon and the Mulcahys Matthew and Brian are capable of notching match winning scores as they did in Fraher Field two weeks ago.
The Cork side will start as favourites and they should justify that tag and head for a December Munster Final in Mallow against the Clare or Limerick champions.
Munster Camogie Senior SF
Sarsfields v Newcastle West on Sunday in Castle Road at 1.30pm
Sars go into this game on the back of a tough test in the preliminary round against the Clare champions Truagh/Clonlara in Clonlara last Saturday and the manner in which they won that encounter might stand to them on Sunday - that plus the fact they will enjoy the home comforts of a pitch they are very familiar with.
Newcastle West were Limerick champions in 2021, but were controversially removed from last year’s championship due to an unregistered player; that they could put that behind them and win it this year suggests there’s a strong resolve within the group.
In this year’s final they were comfortable winners over Kileedy 0-16 to 1-5 and Roisin Ambrose and Rebecca Delee were the top scorers in that game from both play and placed balls, and the Sars defence will need to be mindful of the threat this duo pose.
Their midfield pairing of Karen O’Leary and Deborah Murphy are key players as well, while at the back their strong defensive unit was evident in their concession of only 1-5 in that game, the goal the only score from play.
Sars were tested in their win last weekend, but just like they did in the county final win over Seandun, they stuck to the task and got the job done, those traits will be needed again.
Clare Mullins hit the vital goal, again, Molly Lynch Orlaith Mullins, Kate Fennessy, Lucy Allen, Ellen Murphy and Niamh O’Callaghan have grown in confidence as the championship evolved and are all key components of a well drilled and composed side.
A number of players already possess Munster Ladies Football Medals and by 3pm on Sunday next, the expectation is they will have the opportunity to add camogie medals to the list by advancing to the final.
Munster Intermediate Camogie SF
Blackrock v Clanmaurice on Saturday in Ballyheigue at 2.30pm
It’s a difficult trip to the Kingdom for the ‘Rockies facing the reigning Munster champions who accounted for Cork opposition, Aghabullogue, in last year's final.
In fact prior to winning that title last year, they were 5 in a row junior champions, a team well versed in the art of winning and by the same token they make up the bulk of the Kerry side that compete in national league and All-Ireland Championship at a higher level again, with a degree of success.
Although Cork did beat them comfortably in the Munster Intermediate Championship Final back in May, they are also hampered by there being little or no club camogie in Kerry so this is in effect their first competitive outing in months. Amy O’Sullivan, although an injury worry, Patrice Diggin is also nursing an injury but will play, Sara Murphy and Jackie Horgan are big players for the Kerry girls.
Blackrock have prepared well and in Cliona O’Callaghan, Hayley Ryan, Roisin De Faoite, Erin Curtin, and player of the match in the county final win over Watergrasshill Ashling Hegarty, they have very good players.
Home advantage will help, a lack of match practice won’t, and that might tilt the tie the way of the Blackrock girls, as they bid to dethrone the champions. Last weekend 5 Cork clubs across various codes played in Munster championship games and all 5 won. A repeat this weekend would be nice, best of luck to all.
A number of big and vital appointments were made in the last few days, most notably Ger Manley as the new Cork Senior Camogie Manager, and this is a sensible choice.
Ger has vast experience at club and county level and having been involved with Matthew Twomey for the last two years ensures continuity, which is also a positive as both players and management will be familiar with how the system works. Liam Cronin remaining involved is also a welcome move.
The Cork camogie team are holding a fund-raising night at the Dog’s in Curaheen Greyhound Stadium on 9 December and let’s hope they get the support they deserve.
On the club scene, there are a couple of interesting appointments: Tomás Mulcahy is the new Glen Rovers Manager and the former club and county winning captain will be hoping to guide the club back to the top tier of Cork hurling after their relegation this season.
Bride Rovers have named Brian Murphy as their new boss in what is a first venture at this level for a real top class defender. They along with Glen Rovers and Blarney will be the top seeds in the Senior A Championship, and they will be hoping to build on their success of this year, although their season had a controversial ending.
Congrats to Pat Horgan on his elevation unopposed to the position of Chairman of the Cork County Board and to Clonaklity’s Noel O’Callaghan who will be the new Vice-Chairman.
The story of the week though has to be Newcestown completing a remarkable Senior A double and in the process heading back to Premier Senior in both codes.
12 games in 13 weeks all won; 13 players playing both, Cork hurler Luke Meade is captain of the football team, Tadgh Twomey played in and scored a vital point in his 153rd adult championship game for an exceptional dual club.