Bloodied but unbowed: Cork's club footballers put it all on the line again

Bloodied but unbowed: Cork's club footballers put it all on the line again
Colm Scully, St Finbarr's, receives treatment for a blood injury during the game against Ballincollig, at Páirc Uí Rinn last Friday night. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

PUTTING it all on the line for your club; it's what the GAA is about. 

You can be sure Colm Scully wasn't expecting to see a cascading stream of red running down his geansaí while representing the Blues at Páirc Uí Rinn on Friday night, but that's championship for you.

As the picture by Jim Coughlan shows, the young St Finbarr's footballer got a nasty knock in the first half of their opening round joust with Ballincollig: bloodied but unbowed. Stitched up he returned to the fray and ran himself into the ground as the 2018 champions got the job done in the second half.

The Barrs are among the favourites for glory come October but they were pushed hard by a Collig unit that has former Cork forward Podsie O'Mahony at the helm. Ballincollig were the better side for much of the opening 30-odd minutes and just a point behind when Cian Dorgan knocked over a free early in the second half.

Yet Paul O'Keeffe's group have a great blend of young and experience. Cillian Meyers Murray nailed some sublime scores on his return from injury. He shot three gems in a row entering the fourth quarter when the game was there to be won. 

Ian Maguire's influence had grown considerably by then, while Denis O'Brien and Micheal Shields had an impact from the bench that Ballincollig couldn't replicate. 

Clonakilty beat Carrigaline in the other game in the Premier Senior group, which means they can now afford to lose to the Barrs, defeat Ballincollig and reach the quarter-finals. And after bowing out at that stage last year to eventual winners Nemo, you feel there's more to come from the Barrs. 

Ballincollig lost last year's U21 county to St Michael's and young guns Luke Fahy and Darren Murphy were among their standout performers at the weekend.

Michael's, their conquerors, bet heavily on youth in their Senior A opener against Béal Áthan Ghaorthaidh, in part due to injuries. Eight of their starting 15 were U21, with Tadhg Deasy, Adam Hennessy, Daniel Meaney and Liam Grainger excelling in the second half as the Dazzlers did exactly that, rattling off 3-16 to win by 11 points.

St Michael's Tadhg Deasy and Éire Óg's Ronan O'Toole tussle for the ball in last year's PIFC final that the Muskerry team won. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
St Michael's Tadhg Deasy and Éire Óg's Ronan O'Toole tussle for the ball in last year's PIFC final that the Muskerry team won. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

That's not to underestimate their sprinkling of veterans: Eoghan Buckley was a doubt coming in with a hamstring issue yet struck for 1-4, Eric Hegarty scored a point but also had his hands on 2-3 using his trademark flicks and tricks.

When the championship grades were redrawn for 2020, Michael's were promoted, having suffered through five PIFC county finals in eight years without lifting the trophy. 

With Covid-19 restrictions, only a small, loyal cohort of supporters was allowed into Ovens on Saturday evening but they left energised about their prospects. 

Of course, hurling takes over this weekend and how the dual players fare with Blackrock could yet have a bearing, as it will for many clubs. 

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