Club heroics redeemed the year for Cork football

Club heroics redeemed the year for Cork football

Knocknagree players Danny Cooper and Padraig Collins celebrate after beating Dromid Pearses in the Munster JFF. Picture: Dan Linehan

A FOOTBALL season that seemed destined to end on a pessimistic note following Kerry's whitewash at inter-county level has suddenly provided a shimmer of light amid the gloom.

First, it was Nemo Rangers' stirring victory over the defending All-Ireland champions, Dr Croke's, in the Munster club senior final and followed now by Knocknagree in the junior decider.

Their thrilling 1-17 to 2-11 extra-time win over Dromid Pearses in Mallow on Sunday has added to the feel-good factor about Cork football going into a new season.

It's been a while since an All-Ireland club title of any description has come our direction.

Canovee's 2007 junior success was the most recent. Three years earlier, Carbery Rangers captured the intermediate title and in 2002 Nemo were the last senior club champions.

Now, Nemo and Knocknagree have something tangible to aim for in the New Year with All-Ireland semi-finals in the pipeline.

The Duhallow club will be first out, when they take on the winners of Saturday's quarter-final between Donegal's Naomh Colmcille or Scotland's Dunedin Connollys on January 21.

Nemo face Ulster champions, Slaughtneil from Derry, on February 17 and both Munster champions will have to travel to the midlands, possibly Portlaoise or Tullamore, to play the games.

Cork club doubles in Munster are rare enough though not unusual at the same time.

Intermediate and junior were introduced by progressive president Sean Kelly in 2003 and Cork champions made an immediate impression.

Ilen Rovers captured the intermediate title by defeating Limerick's St Senan's by 2-19 to 0-7 and Carbery Rangers won the junior with a 0-13 to 0-11 victory over Annascaul.

A second double followed in 2005, this time at senior and intermediate levels. Nemo captured senior following a 2-12 to 1-6 win over Clare champions, St Senan's from Kilkee, and Rosscarbery overcame Pallasgreen from Limerick to take the intermediate title by 1-10 to 1-7.

Two years later Nemo and Canovee completed a third double, Nemo edging Ballinacourty from Waterford by 1-10 to 1-7 and Canovee squeezing past Clare's O'Callaghans Mills by 1-6 to 1-5.

Mallow also reached the intermediate final in 2007 only to lose to Annascaul by 0-13 to 0-7.

Meanwhile, the remaining quarter-final spot in the Corn Uí Mhuirí (Munster Colleges Senior Football Championship) will be decided tomorrow, when Hamilton High School from Bandon take on Skibbereen Community School in Ballineen at 1.30pm.

It's the concluding game in Group D, where Tralee CBS are already guaranteed one of the two places on offer regardless of the outcome of the west Cork derby.

The Kerry school have two points and a scoring difference of +1, which will be critical if Skibbereen overcome the Hammies, who also have two points and a scoring difference of +2.

Not only must Skibbereen win, but they must do so by three points at least to edge their Bandon opponents out of the picture.

Skibb lost to Tralee by three points and must make up that lost ground in a section where all three teams could finish on the same number of points.

It was something similar to the all-Cork group, where De La Salle, Macroom, Coláiste Choilm, Ballincollig, and Coláiste Chríost Rí ended on four points apiece and required scoring difference to separate them.

Coláise Choilm's 1-11 to 1-7 win over Clonakilty Community College on Friday, when Éire Óg's Jack Murphy contributed 1-7, clinched a quarter-final place along with De La Salle.

The Macroom school topped the group on +14 ahead of Coláiste Choilm on +7, six better off than Críost Rí, who lose out.

Cork will have three teams in the quarter-finals in January, joining the other Kerry contingent of St Brendan's, Killarney, Intermediate School Killorglin and Pobalscoil Corcha Dhuibhne.

Tomorrow is also a big day for North Monastery AG in the Dr Harty Cup. They play Doon in Fermoy at 1.30pm and must win.

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