Wednesday 11 December 2019

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Cork Independent

Game On

Cork & Kerry clashes take centre stage

Wednesday, 13th November, 2019 4:38pm

While the intermediate hurling final between Blackrock and Cloughduv will bring the curtain down on the County Board’s adult championships, there are four big Munster Club Championship games with Cork and Kerry clubs in opposition in all games.

Having survived a stern test from Newcastle West, Nemo Rangers will now be well focused for a clash with old rivals Austin Stacks who, by the rules of the Kerry Board, represent the Kingdom in this championship on foot of East Kerry ending Crokes' reign as champions.

Nemo have an incredible record against Kerry opposition at this level, and while Stacks are not the champions, they will relish the opportunity to take the scalp of the Cork champions. In the event of them representing Kerry, Stacks were working away quietly, and will look to bounce back from a poor campaign in the county championship where they lost both games.

They still have good experienced players in Kieran Donaghy, Sean Quilter, Fiachna Mangan, Colin Griffin and Dylan Casey.

Nemo were well ahead in their win over Newcastlewest but will be disappointed that they did not close the game out, and manager Paul O’Donovan will hope that if they find themselves in a similar position on Sunday, they will do just that because Kerry sides do not let you off the hook.

Yet with Luke Connolly, Paul Kerrigan, the Cronin brothers, Micheal Aodh Martin and Jack Horgan all playing well, they should have enough in hand to win and they will also hope that Barry O’Driscoll is fit to play, as he will add another dimension to the attack.

A historic afternoon for newly crowned Premier Intermediate champions Éire Óg as they host a Munster Championship game at their splendid Ovens facilities and they could not asked for a more mouth watering clash with Templenoe in town.

The Kerry side were All-Ireland Junior champions a short few years ago, and despite dwindling numbers, are still a serious side as they showed when comfortably seeing off the Waterford champions on home soil last week.

Kerry seniors Killian and Adrian Spillane, Tadgh Morley and Gavin Crowley anchor their side with excellent support from Kieran McCarthy and Brian Crowley.

Éire Óg were impressive winners over St Michael’s in the county final, and the manner in which they closed that game out will have given them confidence of what is a tricky looking tie, even with home advantage.

Daniel Goulding remains a key player in their attack, while the introduction of Ciarán Sheehan may help swing the tie their way. Ronan O’Toole, John Cooper, Brian Hurley and John Kelleher impressed in the county final but they will be hoping that Cork under 20 star Colm O’Callaghan is fit as he is also a big player for the Ovens' side.

This represents a huge test for Éire Óg and they will need to be at their very best if they are to win.

Having only captured the Cork championship last Sunday and rightly celebrated a well deserved, and it must be said, comfortable win. The trick now for Kilshannig is trying to get the focus right for this contest.

Winning the junior championship, and with it promotion to the intermediate grade, was their ambition all season. The opportunity to claim further honours should be embraced as they do not come around that often.

Na Gaeil were easy winners of the Kerry title, and having lost the previous two, it shows the resolve within the team, and they will also be determined to maintain Kerry’s grip on this championship - broken only in recent years by Knocknagree.

Jack Barry, Mike Griffin, Kieran Dineen, Eoin Doody and Dara Devine were instrumental in the win over St Senan’s and they will need to be kept in check by Kilshannig.

Of course, the manner in which the North Cork side eased to the county success is also an indication that this is a well balanced and youthful side who, on their day, are a match for the best.

Killian and Eanna O’Hanlon can dominate in midfield, Brian Guerin, Conor McMahon, Kieran Twomey and Diarmuid Twomey are class players, and if they approach this tie with the resolve they have shown all year, they are well capable of winning and extending their season.

This is a quarter-final that is effectively a semi-final - as Clare do not enter a team at this level - so for the winners, it’s a trip to Mallow in December for a Munster Final. This game that will be played in Fitzgerald Stadium where the wide expanse should favour the Cork champions.

While Kerry clubs dominate the football equivalent, Cork clubs have a great record in hurling - Cloughduv won last year's and it would be a big shock if Russell Rovers were to lose this one.

Kilgarvan, though, are a proud club in North Kerry where they take their hurling very seriously and they will head to Killarney firmly in the belief that that can cause an upset.

Russell Rovers were very impressive winners in the county final with Brian Hartnett and Josh Beausang in scoring form, while Luke Duggan-Murray, Daniel Moynihan, John Paul Ivers, James Kennefick and Chris Ruddy were all impressive, and with a well balanced side, they should win and probably will with a bit to spare.

The first thing that must be said about this pairing is the remarkable consistency of both teams.

Last year Blackrock were runners up to Ballincollig in this championship while Clouighduv were winning the junior championship so an intriguing hour of hurling is in prospect.

That this is the ‘Rockies second team is also testimony to the depth of their squad which also features a number of players that played with St Michael's as they were contesting junior and intermediate championship games in recent weeks.

Blackrock were very impressive in their semi-final win over Aghabullogue last week scoring 1-16 from play with Olan Kelleher and Eoin O’Farrell major contributors.

Colin O’Leary and David Cashman are also a threat in attack, while at the back, Daniel O’Mahoney, Ryan Cantwell and Eoin Smith are effective defenders.

Cloughduv have been waiting for this game for a few weeks now and that may come against them in terms of match practice but the bulk of the team that won county and provincial titles last year are still performing to a high standard.

Brian Verling, James Moynihan, Joe Ryan, Mark Verling, Dave O’Leary, Daniel Corkery, Eoghan Clifford and Ger Aherne are among those that have delivered when required in this season’s championsship.

Hard game to call but the greater scoring threat in the ‘Rockies attack might just give them an edge.

There are several games in the various grades as the push to try and complete these championship goes on, but with dual involvement and Munster championships complicating matters, there’s a bit to go yet, and the 4G pitch in Páirc Uí Chaoimh is going to get extensive use in the coming weeks.

Fr O’Neill’s will hope to get a bounce from their intermediate success when they play Duhallow while Shandrum will find it tough to get the better of a highly rated Midleton side in the Premier 1 semi-final.

There's a Muskerry derby between Inniscarra and Aghabullogue, while St Finbarr's will hope to continue their winning run against a fancied Valley Rovers side, while Newcestown might be good enough to see off Castlelyons.

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