A NORTH Cork side have their sights set on Division 1 hurling glory at Tullamore on Saturday.
The Cork North meet Galway Maroon at O'Connor Park, 4.20pm in the Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge Division 1 decider.
The Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge was established in 2016 and is the only competition in hurling featuring teams from all 32 counties. The focus is on development for players outside county minor panels, with each team guaranteed at least five games.
For 2019, a total of 44 teams entered with over 1,300 players playing in 138 games. There is a festival of hurling in Tullamore today with six finals and the Michael Hogan Cup on offer for the Division 1 winners.
Cork North topped their group defeating Cork West, Clare Blues and Limerick Sarsfields and drawing with Kerry in a great game in Austin Stack Park, Tralee. They qualified for the quarter-final of Division 1 for the first time where they defeated Tipperary Gold in Golden after extra time in a thrilling game by 5-15 to 1-25.
That outcome earned a semi-final date with Cork East, three goals in the opening half laid the groundwork for a narrow 3-13 to 1-17 victory over Cork East.
Selector John O'Flynn is delighted with the rate of progress by a skillful team in a competition geared for players not playing on county minor panels.
“The games have operated from early May, some terrific contests, Cork North operating for the first time in Division 1 came through narrowly against skillful sides. Our team definitely relishes the opportunity to perform at the top level," he said.
A number of hurlers from the region featured for the Cork minors who narrowly missed out on a Munster final after losing to Clare in Ennis two weeks ago. That ruled them out of this competition but the Galway Maroon group have some serious talent, which means North Cork face a very tough task.
“They were good enough to play for the Cork minors, on the other hand, Galway minors have yet to play a championship game, waiting for the All Ireland series. Reports indicate that their Celtic Challenge team have impressed but we will go out and do our best, hopefully repeating our form en route," said the Freemount club man.
CORK NORTH: Liam Clancy (Fermoy), Jake Buckley (St Dominic's), Peter Condon (do), Eamon Hayes (Kanturk), Brian Cotter (Killavullen), Killian Cagney (Charleville), Cian O'Sullivan (Kanturk), Darragh O'Grady (Kilavullen), Darragh Daly (Fermoy), Brandon Murphy (Keale Gaels), Patrick Sheehan (Ballycastle Gaels), Seán Killeen (Liscarroll Churchtown), Ben Twomey (Fermoy), Alan Walsh (Kanturk), Mikie Sheehan (Kilara Óg), Killian Heggervelt (do), James Fitzpatrick (Fermoy), Cormac Roche (do), Adam Flynn (do), Ger Murphy (do), Seán Sugrue (Ballycastle), Gearóid Roche (Ballycastle), Dylan Collins (do), Aidan O'Leary (do), Seán O'Riordan (Mallow), Seán O'Connell (Ballygiblin), Luke O'Donoghue (Keale Gaels), Dylan Kelleher (do), Cian O'Mahony (Newtown), Seán McCarthy (do).
MANAGEMENT: John Hartnett (Dromtarriffe), Dave Heafey (Ballygiblin), Pa O'Brien (Glanworth), Patrick Roche (Fermoy), John O'Flynn (Freemount).