SUNDAY: SE Systems Cork Camogie semi-finals: St Finbarr’s v Sarsfields, 1.30pm; Inniscarra v Killeagh, 4.45pm, Castle Road.
IT’S been 10 years since St Finbarr’s made the last four of the Cork Senior Camogie Championship. It’s a long time for such a prestigious club.
Ten years ago, they came up against St Catherine’s in the semi-final. When Viv Harris pointed a pressure free with time almost up it looked as if the Barrs had done enough to see them through to their fourth final on the trot.
But Catherine’s substitute Lisa Higgins had the final say with an equally sublime point in injury time to justifiably force a replay. The Saints won the replay, 1-20 to 2-9 and went on to beat Milford in the final.
Small margins determine so much.
Joyous scenes welcomed St Finbarr’s first and only senior title win in 2006 against Imokilly. They were final favourites against Muskerry in 2007 and met Douglas in 2008 but came up short on both occasions.
Hard to believe that it’s taken 10 years to get back to a semi-final spot. But they have and that’s down to tremendous work at underage over the past decade and to the work of manager and coach Brian O’Sullivan.
You typically get a couple or more inter-county players on most club sides. What’s important is how good your ‘club only’ players are. Having a ‘rounded’ team, with good players in every line of the pitch is more crucial to a club’s success than having a few stars.
The Barrs have that this year.
It’s great to see the Barrs emerge as a strong club again, just as it’s great to see Sarsfield’s at this level, also after years of hard work. After many years working their way back, 2016 saw Sarsfield’s step up to the senior ranks once more. They’ve been learning every year, getting stronger every year, in a short space of time, and this semi-final makes for a great one.
Sars too are very rounded. Emer Fennell however still plays a huge role in the side and how she is managed on Sunday will go a long way to determining who reaches the final.
Inniscarra and Killeagh make up the second of a double-header in Castleroad. Inniscarra are vying for their fourth title in a row. They are challenged by good sides, but they dig deep every time with strong discipline and spirit. You have to admire the ferocity of how they are defending their title this past three years.
After a comfortable opening round victory over Éire Óg, Inniscarra had tough games against Éire Óg again, who were much improved, and Catherine’s.
In addition to a strong defence, Aileen Sheehan and Katie O’Mahony are again having great seasons. Up front Inniscarra have a good spread of scoring forwards with super sub Claudia Keane guaranteed to once again come into the fray. If they hit form, they’ll be hard to stop.
Killeagh overcame a strong Glen Rovers quarter-final challenge, pulling away in the final 10 minutes. I still think there’s more to come from this side, that they haven’t yet peaked.
A little bit more composure when in possession and finding team mates will finish off a lot of the openings they create, and they’ll then be a force. It could be Sunday.