IT’S back to the first game of the championship as Glanmire take on Douglas in the final of the Premier 1 MFC at Páirc Uí Rinn tonight.
In that encounter Glanmire came out on top so they will be hoping to repeat the feat, with Douglas looking for a bit of revenge.
Overall they were probably the best two sides in the championship, with Ballincollig another well worth a mention.
It was agony for the Village as they lost out on qualifying for the semi-final on scoring average, with Glanmire or Douglas coming through their group after all finished level on points.
Both sides had good wins in their respective semi-finals and to pick a winner is impossible.
Massive credit must go to Glanmire this year as they built on the success of last season. They were crowned Premier 2 champions and made the decision to move up to the top grade and their form to date has shown it was the right decision.
In their opening group match, against Douglas, they brushed the challenge of the defending champions aside to win by 3-8 to 1-9. In his report of that tie John Coughlan said that Glanmire ‘outbattled’ their opponents and ‘battled as if their lives depended on the result’ and have no doubt they will do the same again tonight.
Add in the fact a large number of the squad lost the county hurling final two weeks ago and they won’t want to be going away empty-handed again.
After that win over Douglas they lost out to Ballincollig, before finishing the group strongly with a win over Nemo Rangers to face Ibane Gaels in the semi-final.
Again they proved too strong for Ibane and now this bunch of players find themselves back in another final, bit it with the bigger ball, and at least seven of them started in last year’s Premier 2 decider.
That win last year was an emotional night for both Glanmire and Douglas, as sadly a tragic linked both clubs. The game was postponed for a number of days after the sad passing of Ben Flahive.
Ben was involved with Douglas underage for a long time and the respect he was held in was shown by the GAA community that came out in their hundreds to pay their respects to him.
Ben’s sister is married to Glanmire manager, Gerry Sparrow, so in many ways it was a fitting tribute to him that both clubs won.
With the first anniversary of his passing coming up shortly it is somehow another fitting tribute to Ben and all that he has done for Douglas GAA Club at underage level to see these two meet in the Premier 1 decider.
He would have been leading the ball-hopping with Gerry, but if they win he would also have been the first over to shake his hand.
Hopefully both can play their part in a game worthy of his memory and the link between the two clubs.
One thing that Douglas will have to watch tonight is the goal threat of Glanmire and in their four game to date have scored 12 – which averages out at three a game.
That’s great scoring for any team and it will be something that Douglas will try to stop to have any chance of winning. That goal threat is not just down to one player with the likes of Luke Elliot, Daniel Hogan, Naoise Marron and Dave Lynch amongst the scorers.
Douglas, for their part, are the defending champions and won’t want to give up their title easily.
And in Eddie Murphy they have a highly respected manager. Eddie has been involved with the club for many years and has been winning underage titles since the 1980s, guiding them to their first U16 football county title in 1982.
Impossible to predict a winner but one thing is for certain, whoever does win will have been through a right battle to do so.
Tomorrow night will see Castlehaven and St Finbarr’s do battle again in the replay of their Premier 2 semi-final clash. The winners will play Kanturk in the final.
Premier 1 MFC final: Glanmire v Douglas, 7pm, Páirc Uí Rinn.
Premier 2 Challenge Cup final: Carrigaline v St Michael’s, 7pm, Carrigaline.
Premier 1 Challenge Cup final: Gabriel Rangers v Ballincollig, 8pm, Clonakilty.
Premier 2 MFC semi-final replay: Castlehaven v St Finbarr’s, 7.30pm, Cloughduv.