A MASSIVE opportunity presents itself for Seamus Hickey and his Duhallow teammates on Sunday at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Some question why divisional teams should be left into the Cork SFC. But for the players of Duhallow, this gives them the opportunity to compete at the highest level of club football in Cork, an opportunity that they may never get with their own respective clubs.
Come Sunday evening, the dreams of Hickey and his Duhallow teammates of winning a Senior title could become a reality.
“It would be amazing of course. I would never get the chance to play senior with my club, not alone win one. It would be great. I would never get the chance to play senior championship without divisions.
“People talking about should divisions be in it. I think they only make the championship better.
“It meant an awful lot to us because to get to the final. I’ve been playing with Duhallow the last six or seven years and usually any time we’d get to a semi-final stage, we’ve taken bits of beatings.
“This was probably the first year, of me being involved anyway, that we rose to a proper challenge. We were delighted to get over the line.
“I mean the last time Duhallow won it was in 1991. So it’s not like divisional sides are winning it all of the time.
“Carbery were the last division to win it in 2004. So they are not running away with it all of the time.
“Having better quality players can only make the championship better. So I can’t see the problem having them in it really.”
Duhallow booked their place in the final, after overcoming the challenge of Castlehaven in what was overall a thrilling saga. There were so many twists and turns. The first game Duhallow let a winning position slip, while Castlehaven did likewise in the replay.
But third time out there was no doubt who the better side were. Hickey scored a total of 1-1 last Saturday night in the second replay and was awarded the Reardens Man of the Match.
“We had three fairly heavy battles with Castlehaven. So we were happy to come out the other side of that.
“They were intense. It was end to end stuff. It was played in the right manner.
“They were great games to be involved in. There was great excitement around them and everything. We were just delighted to come out the other side of it.”
Awaiting in Sunday’s final for Duhallow are St Finbarr’s, a side really chomping at the bit to get their hands on an SFC crown.
“The Barrs have a really good team. We will have to be at our very, very best and over if we want to beat them.
“But that is a challenge we are looking forward to. It is the joy of sport, it would be no good if it was easy.
“Just looking forward to it. We will prepare now as best as we can and try to get over the line.”
The games for Duhallow against Castlehaven will have helped to generate momentum for them going into Sunday’s decider, which could be seen as an advantage for them.
On the other hand, one could make the case that St Finbarr’s may potentially be fresh after having a few weeks of preparations.
“I suppose you can look at it both ways. Them three games can stand to you, great for building platforms to a final.
“I suppose the other side of it then, The Barrs had a great month off there. They can size everything up. If they had any niggle in their camp, they have time to recover that.
“So there are advantages for both sides. But we are just looking forward to the final now and hopefully we can perform on the day and get everyone right.”
Between the various different clubs which comprise of players of the Duhallow team, there are sure to be plenty that will travel from the towns and villages across the region.
Duhallow reaching the SFC final is also an indicator of the positive health of Gaelic Football in the North Cork area generally at the moment.
“In the last 10 years, you have had a lot of clubs in Duhallow that have won counties. My own club Rockchapel won the junior title in 2012.
“We went to two intermediate finals in 2014 and 2016. Unfortunately didn’t get over the line.
“My own club has been going well with the last six or seven years. You have Knocknagree winning the All-Ireland last year, Kanturk won an All-Ireland in the hurling. They won the intermediate football as well.
“Millstreet won a Junior in 2014 as well. So there have been clubs in Duhallow going well. It is kind of showing on the divisional team now really all of them divisional players are there.”
All focus from a Duhallow perspective is on doing everything in their power to try and secure their first Cork SFC title since 1991.
That success, along with the title victory of 1990 for Duhallow, was in a final against St Finbarr’s.