DUHALLOW Board Secretary Tony McAuliffe said the excitement is mounting in the north of the county after the division’s progress to the SFC final this Sunday.
Back in the county decider for the first time since 2012 when they lost to Castlehaven, Duhallow face slight favourites St Finbarr’s at Páirc Chaoimh at 3.30pm on Sunday.
“This a marvellous achievement for our players, selectors and clubs. The championship to date has been a rollercoaster — close games, draws, some players having at least two championship games at weekends. It is great that players have the chance to play at the highest level and progress to the final, we are all looking forward to a great final,” he said.
To date, Duhallow have had seven games, a hectic series for players in addition to club and, for some, inter-county commitments.
“It seems a lifetime ago that we played our first game against Seandún under lights in Mallow last March. All our players have enjoyed long campaigns with their clubs, some playing both hurling and football but competing at this time of the year is what gives everybody the greatest satisfaction,” he said.
Duhallow overcame Seandún and one week later, they accounted for UCC before waiting six months for the next fixture.
“To be honest, we struggled against St Nicks. We improved against Valley Rovers and the three games against Castlehaven demonstrated we have a team with the potential to compete with the best in the championship,” said the board secretary.
However, the Lismire clubman acknowledges that Duhallow face a tough assignment on Sunday, opponents St Finbarr’s bring a strong pedigree and were only beaten in last year’s decider by Nemo after a replay.
“The Barrs hold a great love for all that is good in Gaelic games, they play with tremendous enthusiasm, heart and hold a fantastic work ethic. This club has produced some of the greatest players that have ever graced the playing fields of this county, they are worthy finalists and will undoubtedly be formidable opponents for Duhallow,” said McAulliffe.
“Last year, I saw their games against Nemo Rangers, most unlucky in the drawn game and they will be striving to make amends on Sunday.”
McAuliffe added that a win for Duhallow on Sunday would definitely give a boost to the game in the division. “Gaelic games are very strong within Duhallow, many clubs are reaching and winning competitions at county, Munster and All Irelands. Participation levels are exceptionally high despite falling populations and distractions that are part of life.”
Duhallow won back-to-back titles in 1990-‘91, against the Barrs in both finals.