IT’S been so far, so good for the southside neighbours but something has to give here for one of them.
The Barrs opened up with a comprehensive victory over Carrigtwohill and they followed that up with a fine win over Na Piarsaigh.
The Town have two wins under the belt too, securing a fine first-round win over Newtownshandrum and subsequently taking care of the challenge of UCC.
Both have been solid rather than spectacular thus far but they are delighted to be in the position they now find themselves in.
This has to be viewed as a 50/50 contest, no more, no less, even if the Barrs might get the nod by some because of their stronger tradition at this level.
The Barrs had it all too easy against Carrigtwohill and sort of dug it out against Na Piarsaigh in their next outing.
It’s all about building up the confidence levels and Ronan Curran will have been instilling more belief into them. There’s a good blend to the side, a mix of youth and experience from goalkeeper Shane Hurley out.
Glenn O’Connor, Eoin Keane are solid defenders while Damien Cahalane performed well at midfield against Na Piarsaigh. Brother Conor is a forward with a lot of potential while Eoghan Finn gets some very big scores from the placed ball and from open play.
The Town got past Newtown by just a point in the first-round with Pa Cronin’s late heroics proving decisive. The former Cork captain is still a hugely influential presence in the side as is Shane O’Neill back in defence.
Ken O’Halloran is still very reliable between the posts while Diarmuid Lester, Brian Murray, brother Thomas and Colm O’Driscoll are very experienced.
It’s difficult to imagine anything other than a very close encounter here with the Barrs maybe shading it at the end.
Verdict: St Finbarr’s.
It’s a well-documented fact that these two sides got trounced in their opening games but reinvented themselves superbly to the stage where one of them after this game will be in a county semi-final Similar to the opening game, this one should be a battle too with not too much dividing the sides at the end.
Both will come in here fairly high on confidence after winning their previous two games and because of that they’ll not be short of momentum.
Carrig will look to Padraig Hogan, keeper Shane Devlin, Tomás Hogan and young guns Aaron Walsh-Barry and Liam Gosnell There’s a strong tradition in the East Cork club and that can be a factor too when things get very tight.
Ballyhea have a lot of good and experienced hurlers in their line-up with Pa O’Callaghan their main man in attack, though he’s carrying a knock.
Maurice O’Sullivan is still doing the business as well while Barry Coleman is another player you can rely on. Jamie Copps, who missed the Kanturk match, will be a key figure too while Mikey Browne will man the sticks.
John Morrissey and Eugene O’Leary are others who have been contributing to their resurgence.
The character of both sides certainly cannot be questioned after their early season trials and tribulations. Carrig will be mindful of Pa O’Callaghan’s potential to create problems and to execute the scores. This could be a bit of a dogfight and really it’s nearly impossible to nail down.