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Semi-finals take centre stage

Wednesday, 9th October, 2019 4:29pm

Senior Football
Nemo Rangers vs Douglas

Is there any other two clubs whose facilities are as close to one another as Nemo Rangers and Douglas? The distance is little more than a kick of a football apart, which only adds to the intriguing nature of their meeting in the county semi-final on Sunday.

In dreadful conditions, Nemo ended the ‘Barr’s reign as county champions, and that will give them huge confidence heading into this semi-final.

The manner in which their defence coped on the night was admirable, confining the ‘Barrs to just two points in the second half. Micheál Aodh Martin was solid in goal, while Stephen Cronin and Kevin O’Donovan were excellent.

The addition of John McDermott to their midfield has been crucial, and with Peter Morgan, their battle with the young and talented Hartnett brothers, Niall and Brian, will go a long way in settling this encounter.

Douglas were excellent in their win over Ballincollig and the prospect of beating their near neighbours and rivals will give them huge motivation.

Eoin Cadogan, Shane Kingston, Sean Powter, Kevin Flahive and Conor Russell are all key players for Douglas as they bid to reach a second county final.

Nemo have power and pace in their attack, especially Paul Kerrigan, Luke Connolly and Mark Cronin, and that might be good enough to get them over the line.

The divisional side, runners-up last year, have moved effortlessly into the last four and looked very impressive in seeing off Clonakilty in the last round.

Newcestown have surprised many by getting this far, but they are here on merit, and are renowned for their battling qualities and will test Duhallow.

In their quarter-final, Newcestown were well in control against Ilen Rovers and held them scoreless for the second half with David Buckley, Michael McSweeney, Mark Kelly, Carthach Keane and Luke Meade all making important contributions.

Duhallow will have had their preparations somewhat disrupted as several of their clubs are still involved in championship action; in fact Kanturk are actually playing on Friday, which will see a number of their players facing two big games over the weekend.

That said, they have depth in the squad, with Eoghan McSweeney, Anthony O’Connor, Bart Daly, Donnacha O’Connor, Seamus Hickey and Con O’Callaghan, they look to have too much in hand for Newcestown but expect the West Cork side to battle all the way.

This is an attractive double-header in Páirc Uí Rinn and both games will be live on C103.

Two very intriguing ties here with very little between the sides and it's difficult to predict the winners.

On Friday night in Mallow, it’s St Michael's vs Kanturk and here the Duhallow side will be slight favourites having knocked out Cill Na Martra, a side many felt would go all the way in this championship.

St Michael's struggled for long periods against Na Piarsaigh but eventually a Domhnall Cremin goal and good displays from Eric Hegarty, Shane O’Keeffe and Andrew Murphy got them past a dogged Na Piarsaigh side.

As ever, Aidan Walsh, John McLoughlin, Ian Walsh, Lorcan McLoughlin, Daniel O’Connell and Lorcán O’Neill will anchor the Kanturk challenge and they look slightly better balanced to win a close contest.

Bantry Blues and Éire Óg meet in the second semi-final and here the latter’s loss in hurling last week might have dented morale and they will need to pick it up quickly.

Ruairí Deane remains the main man for Bantry and gets excellent support from Shane McSweeney, Kevin Coakley, Tim Foley and Shane O’Neill.

Ronan O’Toole did not play with the hurlers and Éire Óg will hope that he is fit to play in this game and he will be an addition along with John Cooper, Kevin Hallissey, Daniel Goulding, and interestingly Ciarán Sheehan is listed as a sub and might make an appearance, but the odds favour a Bantry win.

Fr O’Neill’s and Kilworth contest what is generally regarded as a very hard and competitive championship to win.

O’Neills are warm favourites for this clash, and the manner in which they have reached this final would justify that tag, but finals take on a life of their own and Kilworth are a battle hardened and good side.

Kieran Walsh is their long serving and talented goalkeeper, Noel McNamara is their main scorer while Dave Twomey, Eoin Carey and Liam Whelan are big players for the North Cork side.

It’s been an exciting few years for a young and vibrant O’Neill’s side who are the reigning under 21 champions.

Declan Dalton, Mark O’Keeffe, Ger Mellerick, Billy Dunne, Paudie McMahon and Jason Hankard have all delivered big games for the East Cork side when the need was greatest, and if they do so again in the final, they will win.

7.30pm start in Pairc Uí Rinn on Saturday night and it’s live on C103.

Castle Road on Sunday at 4pm pits these two side together in the SE Systems Senior Final as champions Inniscarra bid for a fourth successive title against a Sars' side that have surprised many by reaching this decider.

Sars' are essentially a very young team and are a bit reliant on Emer Fennell for scores and they will need a few contributors if they are to cause an upset, but they have good players in Molly Lynch, Michelle Barry, Olivia McAllen and Niamh O’Callaghan.

Inniscarra survived a stern test from Killeagh in a thrilling semi-final replay last week. Rena Buckley, Niamh Dilworth, Treasa McCarthy, Niamh McCarthy, Aileen Sheehan, Erin Looney and the hard working Katie O’Mahoney have all been down this road before and know whats required to win.

Sars' can and will play with a certain degree of abandon, but if Fennell is held, it’s hard to see where the scores will come from.

On that basis it’s a nod to the champions to make it four in-a-row.

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