U16 premier hurling finals will feature Barrs, Ballincollig, Blarney and Valleys

U16 premier hurling finals will feature Barrs, Ballincollig, Blarney and Valleys
John Cremin and David Murray, St Finbarr's, with David O'Sullivan and Paddy Ahearne, Ballincollig, at the launch of the Carrigaline Court Hotel Premier 1 U16 hurling county final at the Carrigaline Court Hotel. Picture: George Hatchell

EXPECT large crowds at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday, but not for the games you might be thinking of.

In the evening there is a senior football double-header but before that, the stars of the future will get the chance to shine.

And there are two potentially superb games in store as Valley Rovers take on Blarney in the Carrigaline Court Hotel Premier 2 U16 hurling final and this will be followed by the Premier 1 final between Ballincollig and St Finbarr’s at 1.30pm.

U16 finals over the last number of years have proved to be close and exciting games and tomorrow should be no different.

In the Premier 1 decider, it’s a case of the traditional club at underage level against a club that has been up and coming in recent years. Ballincollig have been putting in massive work at underage and street league level for some time now and it’s starting to pay off.

They had a bit of hurling success over the last 10 years or so, but this year it has all started to really click for them.

They recently narrowly lost the Premier 1 minor hurling semi-final to Midleton, going down to two injury-time points and are in the football equivalent semi-final as well.

Their U16 football side are in the Premier 1 final, like their hurlers, and go down to the U15 grade and both teams are in Challenge Cup semi-finals.

Go down a couple of years to U12 and they are into the league semi-finals, with no championship at this age, while the U13s are in a hurling semi against Midleton tomorrow afternoon. In the young development category they have large numbers and promising teams, with the U10s winning the Cashman Cup and hurling tournaments in Kilkenny and Sars recently.

Of course they are very young but it gives you an idea of the work being done and the commitment of all involved to get sides at U16 and minor level to county finals or semi-finals at the very least.

They didn’t get off to the best of starts in this championship, but recovered from a first round loss to enjoy a good win over Na Piarsaigh. They then went on to beat Douglas in the quarter-final and Glen Rovers in the semi-final.

They have plenty of quality players and will be back-boned by the likes of Darragh Keohane, Brian Keating, James Dwyer, Cian O’Driscoll and captain David O’Sullivan, all of whom started their recent minor championship tie.

It has been more than 29 years since Ballincollig have won this title and 27 since they were in the final.

Likewise, for the Barrs it has been some time, more than 20 years since they have won this championship and they too will be aiming to rectify that.

They started off with a good win over Blackrock, followed that up with a win over Douglas and in the semi-final got the better of Midleton.

David Murray will have the honour of leading them out and they will look to the likes of Ben Cunningham, David Kennedy, Ciaran Doolan and Ruairi Fitzpatrick to lead them to glory.

The Premier 2 final should be another game to savour and the Innishannon side started off with a win over Sliabh Rua and followed that up with a win over Ballygarvan by three points in a close tie.

Brian Mullane and Sam O'Sullivan, Blarney, with Jonathan Murphy and Brian O'Driscoll, at the launch of the Carrigaline Court Hotel Premier 2 U16 hurling county final at the Carrigaline Court Hotel. Picture: George Hatchell
Brian Mullane and Sam O'Sullivan, Blarney, with Jonathan Murphy and Brian O'Driscoll, at the launch of the Carrigaline Court Hotel Premier 2 U16 hurling county final at the Carrigaline Court Hotel. Picture: George Hatchell

In the semi-final, the luck of the draw saw them face Sliabh Rua again but Valleys came out on top, this time extending their winning margin from one point in round one to five.

Captained by Jonathan Murphy, who will be hoping to bring another county medal at this age level into the household. His father, John, was on the first Douglas U16 side to win a county football title a number of years ago.

Others they will look to include the likes of Jacob O’Driscoll, John Kennedy and Ciaran McCarthy.

Blarney started off with a loss to Ballinora but quickly recovered to get the better of Carrigtwohill in the second round. They then enjoyed a good win over Ballygarvan and reached the final after their win over Youghal in the semi-final.

Captained by Sam O’Sullivan they will also hope for big games from Eoin O’Neill, Eoghan Kirby and Denis McSweeney, the latter three all part of the Cork U16 team who enjoyed success recently.

With two great games in store, there should be plenty of excitement at Páirc Uí Rinn to start off a busy day at the venue.

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