Cruel blow to Cork GAA clubs counting down to biggest games of the season

Cruel blow to Cork GAA clubs counting down to biggest games of the season

Cill na Martra's Daniel O'Duinnín is tackled by Kanturk's John Browne during the Bon Secours Cork PIFC semi-final at Mallow. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THIS was set to be another bumper five days of GAA action on Leeside.

Well, until the GAA went for the nuclear option on Monday and suspended games at every level immediately. It wasn't a decision taken lightly, but that didn't soften the blow for the clubs impacted. 

Where does it leave the teams affected? Nobody knows. It might have been a case of sacrificing what was left of the club season to ensure a behind-closed-doors inter-county championship runs through to December.

Ironic considering the positivity and goodwill the split-season approach generated.   

So what of the potentially classic finals that are on hold?

On Wednesday night, Castlehaven should have been involved in the first of two county finals, starting with the Premier 2 minor football decider with Kanturk, who were hoping to atone for a loss to St Colman's in the hurling equivalent when they were strong favourites.

The Haven were then heading into a hugely appealing showdown with senior champions Nemo Rangers on Sunday evening, a repeat of the 2013 and 2015 finals.

Jack Cahalane, a dual Cork minor last season was simply sublime as St Finbarr's captured the P1 minor hurling title for the first time in 23 years, has been the Haven's standout forward with the big ball at underage level. For Castlehaven's minors, he would have been integral to beating Kanturk, and also featured for the seniors.

He's been in the spotlight for a while, which comes with the territory as a member of a storied GAA family. He'd two semi-finals last week, knocking his hurling brethren the Barrs out in both!

It was a subplot to the drama in the Premier Senior Football at Páirc Uí Rinn, where Patrick Mulcahy, Brian Cuthbert and Derek Kavanagh narrated the pulsating events perfectly on the Irish Examiner stream. There were black cards, injuries to marquee players, red cards, a sizzling sideline from Brian Hurley to put the Haven ahead at the death of normal time, and then sudden death in penalties after extra time. 

Castlehaven's Mark Collins celebrates with Jack Cahalane. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Castlehaven's Mark Collins celebrates with Jack Cahalane. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Mark Collins converted his second penalty in the shootout to defeat the Blues, who were left to rue some missed chances across the 80-plus minutes, though their effort was simply heroic considering their quarter-final against Newcestown was only the Wednesday before. It was a cruel scenario for Paul O'Keeffe's side; the Covid-delay didn't come from their side. 

Nemo profited in a wide-open quarter-final against Ballincollig, raising five green flags, before surviving an arm-wrestle with Duhallow to return to the county final. Nemo-Castlehaven is absolute box-office. Hopefully, it'll take place before the year is out.

Other games to bite the dust included an East Cork derby in the Lower Intermediate Hurling Championship. You don't have to travel too far from Castlemartyr to Russell Rovers' base in Shanagarry; factor in hurlers like Josh Beausang, Bud Harnett, Ciarán Joyce, and the Lawtons, Brian and Barry, and it would have been a belter.

Mitchelstown have been the form team in the IFC, with Martin O'Brien at the helm, Cork forward Cathail O'Mahony shooting the lights out and former Tipp U21 hurling captain Colin English on board. Rockchapel's Seamus Hickey has been one of Duhallow's most consistent performers for quite some time. An interesting pairing.

The Duhallow division was represented in the PIFC final too, Kanturk versus Knocknagree. Cill na Martra looked the team to beat, after blitzing Knocknagree, but Kanturk, with an army of Walshs, squeezed past them. Knocknagree recovered from their drubbing by Cill na Martra to still make the final. Some going.

Éire Óg's Daire McCarthy holding off Donal Óg Hodnett. Picture: Denis Boyle
Éire Óg's Daire McCarthy holding off Donal Óg Hodnett. Picture: Denis Boyle

Éire Óg should have been gearing up for two county finals on consecutive weekends, the SAFC group-stage rematch with Mallow, and an IAHC Muskerry derby, against Aghabullogue. 

For the likes of Daniel Goulding and Cian O'Riordan, the football finale would have put the spotlight on the deadliest forwards in the grade all season. Goulding has been leading the line for the Ovens outfit since they were in the junior ranks. What a club legend he is.

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