Muskerry and Duhallow meet in championship opener

Winners set for a clash with Seandún
Muskerry and Duhallow meet in championship opener

Seán O'Donoghue in action for Cork against Westmeath in the Allianz Hurling League in May. Tonight he is set to wear the white of Muskerry against Duhallow. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

TONIGHT

Co-op SuperStores Premier SHC (Divisions/Colleges) first round

Duhallow v Muskerry

Banteer, 7.30pm

Nine months without senior championship in action in Cork will end at Banteer this evening as the divisions and colleges section of the premier senior hurling championship gets underway.

A clash against Seandún next weekend is the prize for the hurlers of Duhallow and Muskerry, with the latter returning to the championship for the first time since a seven-point loss to UCC in April of 2019.

The mid-Cork side, managed by Diarmuid Kirwan, are likely to look to Cork senior star Seán O’Donoghue (Inniscarra) for inspiration, while Mark Verling (Cloughduv), Eoin O’Shea, goalkeeper Dylan Desmond (both Éire Óg) and Seán Bourke (Grenagh) are other key men.

Duhallow were the only division to compete last year apart from Imokilly and UCC, who will enter the competition after Seandún play tonight’s winners.

The north-western division played UCC in Mourneabbey and, while they came up short by 3-22 to 2-13, they gave a good account of themselves. They will look to the likes of long-serving goalkeeper Kevin Roche (playing on his home club ground), former Cork centre-back Mark Ellis (Millstreet), Kilbrin's Garrett Lenihan and Alan Ryan (Newmarket).

Speaking to The Echo last month, their new manager Donie O’Mahony admitted that there were challenges in trying to get a squad together but there were never any issues in getting players to answer the call.

“No,” he said, “and, to be fair, that stems from players being used to representing Duhallow and, when they’re asked, they do their best to answer that call.

“One other thing is that the board is very supportive and has been down through the years with regard to entering underage teams.

“Okay, there’s no U21 championship now but presumably it will be back next year and Duhallow will be in it. That does help us and without that, we’d struggle.

“There was no major difficulty, notwithstanding the fact that Meelin, Rockchapel, Boherbue and Dromtarriffe are still involved in 2020 competitions. We’d be relying on players from those clubs, some of the Boherbue lads play hurling with Dromtarriffe and the Rockchapel lads do so with Meelin, there’s a crossover of commitments left, right and centre.

“Still, to be fair to them, they do answer the call and the other thing I’d have to mention is that, over the last decade, Steven Lynch our chairman has filled lots of roles on the Duhallow board and he has been outstanding in networking with all of these lads.

“Even out of season, he gives a great facility to stay in contact with the lads and he has a great rapport with them. When it comes to turning out for the division, we’d usually prevail on Steven to send that message and say, ‘Look, it’s Duhallow.’

“That cuts a bit of ice with them anyway and he has been invaluable in that sense. He’s well-regarded by all of the players as well.”

With games like this, where lineups may not be known until just before throw-in, making a call can be difficult but Muskerry get the tentative vote to edge things.

Verdict: Muskerry

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