Talking points from the Cork club football championships

From a leading candidate for the Rebel manager job to Douglas' new dual approach and Nemo's strength in depth, Éamonn Murphy reviews the weekend action
Talking points from the Cork club football championships

Knocknagree manager John Fintan Daly. Picture: Denis Minihane.

TWO games down and one to go in the group stages of the Cork club football championships.

Here we look at the talking points as the leading contenders emerge from the pack.

1. FROM KNOCKNAGREE TO THE REBEL HOT SEAT?

Knocknagree continue to glide through the ranks of Cork club football. In the opening two games of this season's SAFC they have defeated Kiskeam and Bishopstown. It means they move into the knockout stages, along with St Michael's, before the teams collide in two and a half weeks to decide who tops their group.

A junior outfit in Duhallow not so long ago, Knocknagree secured a junior football county and then the All-Ireland, and followed that up with the intermediate football title.

Last summer they shipped a massive defeat to Cill na Martra in the PIFC but battened down the hatches and recovered to lift another county, at the expense of a Kanturk side loaded with players who had worn Rebel red. 

They play an attractive, attacking brand of football and while they clearly have talent, manager John Fintan Daly is also maximising their squad, as only Daniel O'Mahony and Eoghan McSweeny have played senior for Cork.

JFD is a well-known figure in Cork football, involved in senior success with the Duhallow division and All-Ireland winning Cork U21 manager in 1994. He's also done his share of radio commentary on C103FM, with his frank analysis proving extremely popular over the years.

Now Fintan Daly has formally put his name forward to replace Ronan McCarthy as Cork senior bainisteoir.

"All I will say is that I have applied for the job," he told the media on Sunday. "There’s a process there now, they’ve a lot of good candidates and I’m just there in the queue. I’ve put my CV in, maybe I’ve something to offer, maybe I don’t. It’s up to the county board from here, and that’s all I’ll say.”

Some might see him as an old-school football man but his record with Knocknagree suggests he's anything but that.

2. DOUGLAS' DUAL CHALLENGE:

It took a late Cormac Collins' point for Douglas to shake off Valley Rovers but his heroics made it four wins for the club's senior teams in the 2021 championships.

The footballers also bettered Carrigaline while the hurlers have excelled in victories over the Glen and Newtown; excellent going for a club with a huge playing population underage but one that sometimes struggles to balance both codes at adult.

Douglas' Kevin Flahive breaks up field watched by Sean Powter against Valley Rovers. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Douglas' Kevin Flahive breaks up field watched by Sean Powter against Valley Rovers. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

This year, there are only two dual players, Brian Hartnett and Nathan Walsh lining out at midfield and corner-back respectively in both teams. While Shane Kingston, Eoin and Alan Cadogan would offer much for the footballers and Seán Powter was a dual Cork minor, concentrating on one code is clearly paying off so far.

3. NEMO'S DEPTH:

After a shock loss to Valley Rovers in the opening round, albeit in a game played just a week after their victory in the delayed 2020 PSFC final, Carrigaline bore the full brunt of a Nemo Rangers' backlash at Páirc Uí Rinn.

Paul O'Donovan's charges hit Carrigaline for 6-17, 6-16 from play. 

Barry O'Driscoll, often utilised as link-man, was in particularly clinical form, raiding for 2-5. 

Paul Kerrigan, who already has 10 senior county medals, struck for 1-2. Luke Connolly, raiser of seven green flags across the drawn-out 2020 campaign, chipped in with 1-2 and the classy Conor Horgan 1-3.

 Paul Kerrigan, Nemo Rangers, shoots from Luke Boyle, Carrigaline. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Paul Kerrigan, Nemo Rangers, shoots from Luke Boyle, Carrigaline. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Some firepower, even if Carrigaline aren't among the contenders for ultimate glory.

What was perhaps more impressive last weekend was Nemo's success with their second and third squads, beating St Vincent's in the PIHC and dethroning Passage in the city division JAFC quarter-final. To get the better of clubs' first teams in serious going.

There's no questioning Nemo's status as the bluebloods of modern Cork football but by the same token, they haven't dominated in recent years at U21 and Premier 1 minor like they once did.

Now of course they're in the mix each season, with their U17s only losing to St Michael's in this season's Premier 1 semi-final on penalties last Saturday. 

They were U21 county champs in three of the last 15 championships (the competition wasn't held in 2020), but that's nothing compared to the four in five years they managed from 2001 to 2005. 

Rangers' playing numbers aren't what they but their production line remains fully functioning.

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