New trend in Cork GAA sees dual players opt for one code in bigger areas

New trend in Cork GAA sees dual players opt for one code in bigger areas

Colm O'Cllaghan, Éire Óg, battles Mattie Taylor, Mallow. O'Callaghan is a dual player but Taylor doesn't play hurling for Mallow's top team. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

DUAL club players will learn their fate over the weekend whether their hectic season continues or is cut in half.

After last week’s riveting hurling action, it’s the final round of football games across all four grades with several prominent dual clubs striving to join the business end of the big ball championships.

Five of the six clubs remaining in the hunt for the premier senior hurling title have varying degrees of interest in the football.

St Michael’s for example, the sister club of Blackrock hurlers, are already through to the senior A knock-out phase.

And with the Rockies’ second-string involved in the premier intermediate relegation play-off there’s just no let-up for players involved in both codes.

And while Douglas hurlers gear up to meet the Rockies in the quarter-final of the Sean Óg Murphy Cup competition, their footballers have to overcome another set of neighbours, Nemo Rangers, tomorrow in what looks a challenge too far.

But, for St Nick’s, who have a number of Glen Rovers hurlers in their ranks, Glanmire and Na Piarsaigh, it’s all about survival and avoiding the dreaded relegation play-offs in their particular grades.

And who’d be in Bishopstown’s shoes? Already primed to play Ballyhea in the premier senior hurling relegation shoot-out, their footballers seem poised to join them in the football equivalent.

They must collect something against in-form Valley Rovers and then hope Ilen Rovers and Carrigaline can inadvertently dig them out of a hole.

Valleys and Carrigaline are more clubs with the dual mandate, the Innishannon version facing a relegation decider against the Rockies in premier intermediate.

Hurling, though, is all-consuming the strapping satellite town of Carrigaline, who bagged themselves a semi-final at the same level against either Ballincollig or Blarney.

And Collig are also in the thick of the premier senior football as well, fully expecting to beat who tomorrow? Carrigaline, of course!

Three clubs with designs on capturing a very competitive senior A hurling crown, Newcestown, Kanturk and Bandon, also have pressing football matters.

Newcestown need little motivation against Castlehaven while the Kanturk-Bandon quarter-final is put on pause for the moment as they attempt to maintain an interest in premier intermediate football and senior A football respectively.

Kanturk will be fancied to account for Gabriel Rangers and then wait for the Nemo-Macroom outcome while Bandon take on Fermoy in a very tight group.

Éire Óg are another club juggling hurleys, sliothars and footballs.

They qualified for the semi-final of intermediate A hurling last weekend, possibly facing Sars’ second team, and try to make the senior A football quarter-finals tomorrow.

And in the same hurling competition, Kildorrery and Aghabullogue could meet in the semi-final, having already played each other in intermediate football with Aghabullogue winning by a point, 2-7 to 2-6.

For that to happen Aghabullogue must squeeze past Mayfield, who have survival on their minds in intermediate football.

As you can see there’s no respite for the dual player, who wouldn’t want it any other way, a sixth championship match since late July! Bring it on, they cry.

Newcestown are a classic case. A dozen usually start in both and playing at such high levels exacts a toll on the body.

It’s something hurling manager Jim O’Sullivan is acutely aware of but remains in favour of the new league phase.

“The one fear I’d have going forward that as a dual club you’re playing six weeks out of seven which is very tough,” he said.

Demographics play a significant role in the number of players operating in both hurling and football at the highest levels.

 Conor Lehane, Midleton, challenging Donnacha Murphy, Douglas. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Conor Lehane, Midleton, challenging Donnacha Murphy, Douglas. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Massive population areas like Douglas, Ballincollig and Carrigaline have a huge advantage over smaller rural areas, where numbers are limited and players are quite happy to play both mainly because that’s been the way since they started out.

What’s becoming more noticeable, though, is the growing number of players in the bigger catchment centres opting for one over the other.

It’s only at times like this when they look over their shoulders at their buddies going to training while their own seasons are over for another year, that they know they’re losing out.

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