Crowds will flock to the football and hurling double-bill in the Páirc

Crowds will flock to the football and hurling double-bill in the Páirc
Fans in full voice at Páirc Uí Chaiomh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

NEXT weekend promises to be a great one for Cork GAA fans.

A double-header of county finals in both codes on Sunday, St Finbarr's versus Nemo Rangers part II at 1pm, Imokilly-Blackrock at 4pm, and the official opening ceremony for the magnificent new Páirc Uí Chaoimh in between.

The day before, as was the case for football last Saturday, the astro-turf pitch in the Páirc will be on the go from 9.30am to 4.30pm for the last Rebel Óg U8 Hurling Monster Blitzes of the year. 

The Glanworth squad at the Rebel Óg U8 blitz day in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Gavin Browne
The Glanworth squad at the Rebel Óg U8 blitz day in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Gavin Browne

Over 1,500 youngsters from every corner of Cork will get to play in the stadium, and like the football, those hurling 'finals' (they're non-competitive with the emphasis on fun, skills and participation) will be a riot of colour and enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, circumstances have led to a few changes to the fixture list. Aghada-Éire Óg in the IHC decider is on hold because of Imokilly versus Blackrock, while the Nemo-Brian Dillon's junior hurling semi-final on Saturday, a rematch of the Seandún final, has gone off too.

Still, there's not much the Cork County Board could have done in the circumstances and a 15,000-plus crowd on Sunday will be a fitting way to mark the Páirc's opening. 

The football replay, especially, promises to electrify.

Stephen Sherlock of St Finbarr's scoring the equalising point. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Stephen Sherlock of St Finbarr's scoring the equalising point. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

It’s staggering to think Nemo hoovered up 12 titles since the Barrs landed their last, and eighth, in 1985. 

At least the ’86 loss to Imokilly was offset by Munster and All-Ireland crowns after, but the three defeats in a row from 1989 to 1991 were a bitter pill, two to Duhallow when John Allen was at the helm in Togher. 

Of the back-to-back near-misses in 2009 and 2010, the first to Clon was worse as the Blues simply didn’t get going early on and still nearly reeled them in.

The Barrs have been a serious force in underage football in the modern era, always competitive at minor they were Premier 1 champions in 2015 and 2012, county medals for the likes of Stephen Sherlock, Sam Ryan and Ian Maguire. 

They led the way at U21 in the noughties in the city, capturing a county in 2008 and reaching another final in ’09.

Nemo never rest on their laurels underage and their haul of eight senior counties between 2000 and 2010 tied in with U21 supremacy. 

They managed four U21 counties in five years from 2001 to 2005, and they’ve tipped away since at that age, with victories in 2012 and ’14.

Minor hasn’t been as rewarding even if they did nab a Premier 1 title last year but then Nemo have always had a philosophy of developing football skills over capturing silverware until players are out of their teens.

That commitment to producing rounded footballers also yielded their 20th senior county yesterday. 

And may yet next Sunday.

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