Barrs footballers are benefitting from a deep reservoir of talent

Barrs footballers are benefitting from a deep reservoir of talent
Michael Shields, St Finbarr's, taking on Cian Twomey, Newcestown. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

THE strength of football out Togher direction is reflected the number of players used by St Finbarr's in just two appearances in the county senior championship.

In all some 27 players figured in the heavy first-round loss to the 2014 champions, Ballincollig, and last weekend's impressive second-half showing in the big win over Newcestown.

The Barrs used 20 players in the 3-17 to 1-10 loss to Ballincollig, who produced a power-packed display after half-time to leave their opponents reeling.

In their do-or-die encounter with Newcestown, the Barrs made five alterations to their starting line-up and introduced two more from the bench to bring their tally to 27.

The changes ranged from goalkeeper Declan Murphy to corner-back Glenn O'Connor to Michael Shields lining out at centre-forward with fit-again Stephen Sherlock and the evergreen Robert O'Mahony lining up in the inside line.

And that doesn't include Jamie Burns, who was listed at left half-back in the programme but was ruled out through injury.

Young Cillian Myers-Murray was sprung from the bench just before the end of an opening half in which the Barrs struggled to transfer possession and chances into scores.

He came on for O'Mahony, who was black carded for dragging down a Newcestown player in a clear act of frustration, an indication of how the opening half-hour had gone for the 'Barr's, who still managed to lead by a point.

Ironically, they found themselves in the same position against Ballincollig only to collapse spectacularly on the resumption, but their second-half showing on this occasion was in direct contrast.

The Barrs bagged three goals from Paul Harte, Myers-Murray and an absolute belter from Shields, whose drop-kick tipped the underside of the crossbar before crashing into the net.

And while the 14-point margin may have been harsh on Newcestown, the Barrs underlined their potential, especially in attack.

There's a school of thought that they are the dark horses in a championship which looks set to be decided by the usual suspects with a couple of others thrown in for good measure.

Yet, few would be surprised at the Barrs making a strong impression and getting involved at the business end of the season.

Recent underage success is behind their cautious optimism, like minor counties in 2015 and 2012 and last season's U21 triumph. There's a strong spine to the side, from full-back Alan O'Connor to Dylan Quinn at number six, Cork player, Ian Maguire, and Eoin Comyns at midfield, Shields on the 40 and Sexton inside in a roaming role.

And with such a strong squad available to manager Ray Keane and selectors Mick Comyns, Enda Kiernan and Paudie O'Shea, it will give them plenty of food for thought for the coming round 3 game against neighbours, Bishopstown. tomorrow night week at Páirc Uí Rinn.

The only downside of using so many players in senior is that it impacts on the club's intermediate team, who recorded big wins over Ballydesmond and Aghabullogue, but will now be drawing players from the juniors.

Unsurprisingly, there's been plenty of movement in the betting with the Barrs 14/1 at the time of writing, having been 25/1 before the Newcestown encounter, another encouraging sign.

They'll be expected to account for a Bishopstown side that only managed four scores, 2-2, against the 9/4 favourites, Nemo Rangers, in round 2A after defeating Carrigaline by five points in round one.

The other leading candidates are defending champions, Carbery Rangers, who are second in the betting at 7/2 followed by 5/1 Castlehaven, 13/2 Ballincollig and 10/1 Duhallow.

The Barrs-Town local derby is one of the outstanding round three games to be played before the fourth-round draw.

Carbery and Kiskeam meet in Macroom on Sunday at 2pm with the south-west combination tipped to bounce back from last weekend's Castlehaven defeat. Douglas face CIT on Monday night at Páirc Uí Rinn.

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