SATURDAY: SE Systems Senior Championship semi-final: Inniscarra v St Finbarr's, Castle Road, 2pm.
ST Finbarr's or Inniscarra should be preparing for a county final this weekend but because of the postponement of Glen Rovers-Inniscarra two weeks ago we find ourselves at second semi-final stage, Courcey Rovers already through.
It’s a pity the winning team and their club will have just a week to prepare for a final but that can’t be helped and at this moment in time, getting to that final is the priority.
Inniscarra, of course, are aiming for their fifth final in a row. Hat trick winners from 2016-2018 they lost to Sarsfields in last year’s decider and are back in contention. Some going.
Inniscarra were knocking on the door far sooner than 2016 but fell to the sticks of champions Milford in 2013, ’14 and ’15. This is a very experienced side that has come through some amazing tight battles over the years.
Much of the 2016 victorious team remains, some went through retirement, work, travel or injury over the past few years. Others fell in, youngsters grew, players returned and that makes the consistency of Inniscarra all the more admirable.
Aoife Kavanagh is back after injury. Joanne Casey has returned from abroad; Niamh McCarthy is out with an ACL injury and is a big loss.
Young players have stepped into the fray. Claudia Keane, a tormenting sub for the opposition for the past few seasons, now has a starting slot and she made full use of that last weekend. Ellen Murphy did really well in at corner forward as still Inniscarra have a rounded side.
The players back boning this panel for many years include Caitlin Looney, Rebecca Quigley, Rosie O’Mahony, Rena Buckley, Katie O’Mahony, Aileen Sheehan, Erin Looney, Treasa McCarthy and Niamh Dilworth.
A very strong team on paper even if last Saturday’s quarter-final victory over Glen Rovers didn’t set Castle Road alight.
It wasn’t complacency, Inniscarra knew they would have a hard fight on their hands against the Glen. There was just a lack of championship action very evident.
It was like an opening round for Inniscarra such was the six-week gap between their two championship games and over the years it was always easiest to catch Inniscarra in their opening fixture. They should perform about 30% better this weekend.
They’ll have to at semi-final stage against a St Finbarr's side that have progressed encouragingly and have the grit between their teeth.
Both defences are strong. It’s the Barrs' strongest division with a very competent goalkeeper and full-back line, who have stood tall this season, and a daunting half-back line of Meabh Cahalane, Gemma O’Connor and at times, Lynda O’Connell.
The latter has been spending much of her time around the middle of the park, Rachel Finn ably filling in her slot with O’Connell pushing forward, which is what the Barrs need. Despite three goals against Killeagh, who on paper had a strong defence, there is a need at this stage to get a strong return from all forwards.
Substitutes Eimear Ryan and Ella Wigginton Barrett are strong introductions and are sure to be sprung again from the bench. Ciara Golden, Orlaith Cahalane and Emma Olden can produce the goods and need to be confident of doing so.
Certainly, the Barrs have become a solid outfit over the past two seasons and deserve to be at semi-final stage again this year. They have every chance of reaching the final.
Meabh Cahalane may well pick up Joanne Casey, leaving Gemma to concentrate more on her own game or pick up Claudia Keane, who’s run’s down the middle caused the Glen a lot of problems. Ellen Murphy, Niamh Dilworth, Treasa McCarthy will also need watching.
I’m not so sure Inniscarra will place Rena Buckley on Keeva McCarthy. They may leave that to another dependable defender such as Rosie O’Mahony and allow Rena play a more attacking game from half-back.
As mentioned both defences are strong and it’s what forward division can penetrate best at either end.
Attacking half-backs and midfielders picking off scores from further out is again a vital part in breaking down barriers.