It might not seem fair on their opponents but credit to Imokilly's management for getting a talented group firing on all cylinders 

It might not seem fair on their opponents but credit to Imokilly's management for getting a talented group firing on all cylinders 
Imokilly's Shane Hegarty shoots and scores a goal against Midleton. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

ON my way from Clare to Cork on a beautiful autumn day, which was ideal for hurling, memories came back of the trips I made with my father to County Hurling Finals all over Munster in the past. 

No matter how good or bad the games were in other counties he would always say to me when going to the Cork final that we were going to see real hurling and a real contest, by the great players of the time... and what crowds attended then, anything up to 25,000 at games.

As a young man this was very exciting to see those great players in the flesh, and as I made my way into this game, who did I meet only one of those players from years back - Jimmy Brohan - looking hail and hearty, and as steely as ever - still having great interest in the game.  I reminded him of all the great games I saw him play, and being the modest man that he is, he merely said: "Sure, I did my best."

Sunday's game between Imokilly and Midleton didn't live up to anything like I've seen in the past.  Imokilly were far too strong for a very young side that fought to the end, but were completely overpowered hurling-wise as well as physically, by the favourites. 

With all the strong players on the one side, this was always going to happen. I would have to say there was at least five or six on the bench for Imokilly who would have been first choice players for Midleton if they were from there.

There is something the GAA authorities will have to look at, and that is, allowing divisional teams into the championship, but not allowing them to compete in the Munster Club Championship or the All-Ireland series. Surely if they are allowed play in the championship then they should be allowed follow-on or they should not be allowed in the championship at all!

I know people say it's a Cork problem, but I don't agree. I think Croke Park should sort it out because if UCC happen to win the Cork County Championship, even though their players could be from all over Ireland (and maybe not even a Cork man among them) they could represent Cork in the Munster Club Championship. 

What kind of a rule, I ask you, is that? Time to sort it out, one way or another.

Tough on Midleton now to have to go and represent Cork in a Munster Club Championship. In my opinion, I'd say they would rather do anything else. 

I know I would if I was a player or a mentor.  Anyway they have got to do it - 'cause that's the rule - right?

Imokilly’s Paudie O’Sullivan with James Nagle of Midleton. Picture: INPHO/Oisin Keniry
Imokilly’s Paudie O’Sullivan with James Nagle of Midleton. Picture: INPHO/Oisin Keniry

Once Paudie O'Sullivan got the first goal for Imokilly and Bill Cooper lording it at midfield, it was always going to be an uphill struggle for Midleton. 

Is there a fitter man that Cooper playing at the moment? What a powerful display he gave, what an engine he has got, defending in his own 21 and then popping the ball over the bar in the opposite 21. 

He struck four points altogether in this game, all very good scores. This guy's striking is improving all the time.

Then you had Colm Spillane dominating in defence and John Cronin outside him also dominating. Midleton were going to find it hard to get scores, and I have to say, the man that strung it all together, and the best leader that Imokilly, and Cork, have, Seamus Harnedy. 

He scored 1-6 from play. His goal a spectacular effort. 

He seems to do this regularly at club and county level, nearly always on the big stage. His work-rate is fantastic and his attitude is first class - a true captain in every sense of the word and my Man of the Match.

Imokilly’s Seamus Harnedy lifts the trophy presented by Tracey Kennedy. Picture: INPHO/Oisin Keniry
Imokilly’s Seamus Harnedy lifts the trophy presented by Tracey Kennedy. Picture: INPHO/Oisin Keniry

When your big players are playing like that and working that hard, they lift everyone around them. 

It's not their fault that the test wasn't greater for them, but manager Fergal Condon and his management team, have really put a fine team together here - well organised and they play for one another all the time. 

At the Reardens Cork SHC Man of the Match presentation at Reardens in Cork were Imokilly players (from left) Mark O'Keeffe, Mike Russell and John Cronin. Picture: Denis Minihane.
At the Reardens Cork SHC Man of the Match presentation at Reardens in Cork were Imokilly players (from left) Mark O'Keeffe, Mike Russell and John Cronin. Picture: Denis Minihane.

Midleton gave this their best and they never gave up, but I was surprised that they started their best player Conor Lehane at full-forward. 

I think Conor is better further out the field where he can do some serious damage, half-forward or midfield. No point having him inside and no ball going in. 

As we all know he can get great scores from out the field, which he did later on when he was moved.

Midleton's defence was under pressure all through, especially in the centre, except for corner-back Seadnaidh Smyth, who had a very solid game and played well. Also James Nagle worked hard. 

Luke O'Farrell at midfield worked very hard throughout the game, just unlucky with a goal chance he missed, but played a real captains part.

Their best forward was Cormac Walsh - got some great scores from play - good pace to this fella, work-rate very good. And Patrick White took his goal well also.

I'm sure Midleton will have learned from this harsh lesson, especially guys like young Sean O'Leary Hayes who had the task of marking Seamus Harnedy - an education in itself. 

Sean is a promising player for both Middleton and Cork, and he has a good career in front of him as does a lot of these youngsters.

A lot of talk about Conor Lehane and the ankle injury he has. If true, it is high time for Conor to get it looked after, because no matter how great a player you are, and Conor is a great player for both club and county, you cannot perform with an injury, and especially an ankle injury. 

Advice from an old warier Conor, get it looked after.

Overall a disappointing county final, but there were two finals in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, including an entertaining intermediate decider between Blackrock and Ballincollig. 

It was a great win for Ballincollig. They showed great heart and commitment. 

They'd a lively few days in the village - and one very happy man in the Echo this week, the deputy sports editor. Don't celebrate too much Éamonm!

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