GAA review of the year: Rebel Óg minor offered three games for each team

Group stage format was a big success for underage players
GAA review of the year: Rebel Óg minor offered three games for each team

Jack Cahalane, St Finbarr's, battling Gavin Marshall, Glen Rovers, in the Rebel Óg P1 Minor Hurling Championship. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

LIKE many sporting bodies the Rebel Óg schedule for the year was severely hit by Covid-19 restrictions.

However one of the successes of the year was the minor championships, which were run in a new format to try and give teams more matches. All sides were guaranteed at least three games in the championship before the knockout phase.

The games were run on Wednesday nights and in both the hurling and football championships there were some great games.

In the Premier 1 hurling championship, St Finbarr’s achieved something they haven’t done since 1997 as they won the title. The early '90s were good for the Barrs with title wins in 1991, '92 and '93 and then again in 1997.

But since then they hadn’t raised the cup in victory until the long wait finally ended, as they beat a top-class Sarsfields side in the final.

Anyone who saw the Barrs play would have seen the determination in the squad to end that drought.

In the group stages, they were superb and had a brilliant win over Glen Rovers in the semi-final. At underage level, it was Sars and the Glen that dominated since U12 up for this particular age group, but the Barrs had been building for the last few years and got the rewards for their hard work with that win over the Glen and then ultimately over Sarsfields in the final by 2-21 to 3-11.

In the final the likes of Ben Cunningham, Willian Buckley, Dylan McSweeney, Ben O’Connor were outstanding. But special mention must be made of Jack Cahalane. The Cahalane name is steeped in the history of Cork GAA and Jack added his name to that list in the final, with two second-half goals that helped to secure their win.

It was all the more special for Jack as he celebrated his 18th birthday on the day of the final, so it was double delight for the Barrs man.

He is also one game away from creating his own little bit of history as with his football side, Castlehaven, they are through to the Premier 2 football final. They were due to face Kanturk, but two days before the final could be played the second lockdown was announced and it's still outstanding.

In the Premier 2 hurling decider, St Colman’s faced Kanturk in the final, with the former slight favourites to win.

In their high-scoring semi-final, Kanturk knocked out the defending champions, Kiltha Óg on a 5-19 to 4-14 scoreline. Colman’s came through a close tie with Newcestown by 0-16 to 0-14.

Both sides amassed big scorelines on their way to the final, with Colman’s hitting 7-55 in their four games and Kanturk hit 11-77.

Colman’s won the final minor win a few years ago and a blistering start ensured the title headed to East Cork again as they won by 2-11 to 0-15.

Craig O’Driscoll and Noel Cahill got early goals for Colman’s and, despite a spirited fightback by Kanturk they came out on top to be crowned county champions.

St Colman's Daniel Cronin and Diarmuid Byrne celebrate after defeating Kanturk. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
St Colman's Daniel Cronin and Diarmuid Byrne celebrate after defeating Kanturk. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

In the Premier 1 minor football, it was back to the first game of the championship as Glanmire took on Douglas in the final.

In that encounter, Glanmire came out on top and they were hoping to repeat the feat in the final, with Douglas looking for a bit of revenge.

Overall they were probably the best two sides in the championship, with Ballincollig another well worth a mention.

Massive credit must go to Glanmire as they built on the success of last season. They were crowned Premier 2 champions and made the decision to move up to the top grade and that decision paid off as they won the Premier 1 title for the first time in their history.

In their opening group match, against Douglas, they brushed the challenge of the defending champions aside to win by 3-8 to 1-9.

After that win over Douglas, they lost out to Ballincollig, before finishing the group strongly with a win over Nemo Rangers to face Ibane Gaels in the semi-final. Again they proved too strong for Ibane and this bunch of players found themselves back in another final, with the majority on the Sars side that lost to the Barrs in the hurling decider.

The final was a tight affair, with Glanmire getting the better start and Douglas coming back at them.

With the game deep into injury-time, the sides were level and it looked like it was going to extra-time.

But up stepped James Crowley to score from a long-range free, from out near the sideline to see Glanmire win by 0-13 to 1-9, one they totally deserved on the night.

 Glanmire after beating Douglas. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Glanmire after beating Douglas. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

The win was the culmination of years of hard work by the likes of Gerry Sparrow but they had a secret ingredient for this season as they brought Kerry star Tomás Ó Sé into the fold and his guile, experience and winning mentality added that little bit extra they needed to win.

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