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Football semi-finals top exciting bill

Wednesday, 3rd October, 2018 4:54pm

Duhallow vs Castlehaven

"It was our ambition to get back to the semi-final and try and go one step further than last year, now that is done we can prepare for what lies ahead.”

Duhallow manager Padraig Kearns said that in the aftermath of their win over Valley Rovers which was far more comfortable then the winning three point margin would suggest, but still they will need to be better again for this last four encounter.

Equally Mark Collins was thrilled with the ‘Haven’s win over Nemo. “Anytime you beat a Nemo team you have to be pleased and we are, but semi-finals are hard to win, and we know that Duhallow will be formidable opposition.”

Castlehaven must have wondered if their half-time lead of 0-3 to 0-0 against Nemo was for real, but there was no denying the quality they produced in the second half. They were worthy winners, and the manner in which they played was a signal of intent.

All over the field they dominated, with Mark Collins' hard running and workrate a feature, while Michael and Brian Hurley were a handful in attack, with Damien Cahalane also turning in a brilliant display.

A concern for Duhallow would be an over reliance on Donnacha O’Connor; he was their main man in the win over Valley’s, and if he is held they could struggle. They do have quality in Seamus Hickey, Kevin Crowley, Aidan Walsh and Lorcan O’Neill - whether they can all gel on the day though, is the key to this match.

The ‘Haven have improved immeasurably in recent weeks and there is no doubt the two games against CIT really brought them on, and they look good enough to win.

St Finbarr's vs Carbery Rangers

A potential cracker in prospect here, as last year’s runners-up the ‘Barrs bid to make it successive final appearances, against a side that arguably are playing the best football of the four teams left in the race to succeed Nemo as champions.

Mick Comyns, a selector with St Finbarr's, was concerned at their poor second half display in their win over Douglas. “We started very well and the two goals set us up, but for whatever reason we did not kill the game and were really hanging on at the end, it is something we will need to address ahead of the Carbery Rangers game,” he said.

Maybe the season-ending injury to goalkeeper Declan Murphy upset them, but whatever the reason, they need to get some consistency into their game if they are to overcome what is sure to be a formidable challenge for the men from Rosscarbery.

Michael ‘Haulie’ O’Sullivan is back as the manager of Ross, and is really looking forward to the semi-final. “Last year I was sitting in the stand watching, now it’s great to be back in the thick of things, we played very well (against Clonakilty) but the ‘Barrs are a superb team and we will have to up it again against them.”

There is lots of talent in both teams; Stephen Sherlock, Ian Maguire, Sam Ryan, Dylan Quinn and Michael Shields for the ‘Barrs, while ‘Ross will look to the very experienced Hayes brothers, Seamus and John, James Fitzpatrick, John O’Rourke and Kevin McMahon.

Not easy to pick a winner in this one, on the quarter-final evidence, Carbery Rangers have the edge, but it would be foolish to write off the ‘Barrs and the desire to end a long wait for another title gives them huge incentive. But will it be enough, it just might.

Premier Intermediate Hurling Semi-Finals

Two real crackers in prospect here with the all South-East clash of Valley Rovers and Courcey Rovers sure to attract a huge crowd to Riverstick on Saturday at 4.30pm.

Valleys’ were very impressive in seeing off the challenge of neighbours Ballinhassig last time out, equally Courcey’s surprised many with their win after a replay over a fancied Castlelyons.

As we have said so often, local derbies take on a life of their own and this one fits neatly into this category, but Valleys’ are a big strong physical side with good hurlers dotted around the field and get the nod to make it back to a final they last contested in 2015, Courceys’ last contested the final in 2011.

The second semi-final goes ahead at the same time in Kilworth with Charleville facing Fr O’Neill’s, in another intriguing encounter.

Both sides had players involved in the senior semi-final last weekend, while O’Neill’s defeated another North Cork side in Kilworth last Saturday, so it’s a hectic period for a few players.

Mark O’Keeffe, Billy Dunne and the Mellericks are key men for O’Neill’s, while Ben O’Connor has done a wonderful job with Charleville, and in Darragh Fitzgibbon they have a player capable of having a major say in the outcome of this tie.

That said, he will need a lot of help and there is a better balance in the Imokilly side and that should be enough for O’Neill’s to win.

Premier Intermediate Football Semi-Finals

It’s a double-header in Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday night with St Michael’s and Éire Óg getting proceedings underway at 6pm. Several of these players would have clashed in the hurling game last week, when Blackrock were triumphant over the Ovens' club.

Extra motivation then for Éire Óg, but Michael’s are on a roll now and having contested and lost a few finals, including last years, might feel the time is now right for them to make that final step.

This will not be easy though, it’s also a repeat of last year’s semi-final, and if they can keep a tight rein on Daniel Goulding, they might just edge it again.

Naomh Abán and Fermoy meet at 7.45pm and the Gaelthacht outfit will be boosted after they good wins over Nemo Rangers and St Vincents but this is a seasoned Fermoy side with Tomas Clancy their key man, and they look better equipped to win.

In the intermediate football, Mitchelstown are hitting top form right now but they face a real test in a Cill Na Martra side that are fancied by many for ultimate honours. Larry Tompkin’s has brought about a big improvement to the side that he led to a junior county title a few years ago and might have done enough to get them to another final.

Mayfield and Aghabullogue meet in a quarter-final, and the latter have been improving with every outing, while the city side will have to refocus quickly after their hurling loss last weekend, and that might just tilt the tie Aghabullogue’s way.

Camogie and Ladies Football

CIT is the venue for Senior Ladies Football Final on Saturday at 4pm where holders Mourneabbey, powered by the O’Sullivan sisters, will be expected to retain their title at the expense of the combination side from West Cork.

In the Camogie Semi-Final, Milford, who had a hard-fought win over Douglas last week, now play Courcey Rovers on Sunday in Castle Road at 1.30pm with champions Inniscarra safely into the final.

Linda Collins is a key player for Courceys, who will be without Saoirse McCarthy, but there’s a depth of quality and experience in the Milford side with the Watson sisters, Elaine O’Riordan and Ashling Thompson, and it would a major surprise if they were to lose.

This is followed at 4.15pm by the Intermediate Final, an all-Muskerry clash of Éire Óg and Aghabullogue, with Éire Óg favourites to return to the senior ranks in 2019.

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