It's all systems go for St Finbarr's and Douglas in football semi-finals

West Cork opponents Castlehaven and Clonakilty await in Sunday's much-anticipated double-header
It's all systems go for St Finbarr's and Douglas in football semi-finals

St Finbarr's Brian Hayes is sent off by referee Conor Lane against Éire Óg during the Bon Secours Premier SFC quarter-final at Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

ST FINBARR’S are boosted by the availability of key players for their Bon Secours county premier senior football championship semi-final against Castlehaven at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday at 3pm.

And Douglas, who take on Clonakilty in the other tie at 1pm, are expected to field from a full-strength squad, including fit-again defender Nathan Walsh.

Cillian Myers-Murray, who missed the quarter-final win over Éire Óg through injury, has recovered while Brian Hayes escaped a ban following his red card in the same game.

“We have a few niggles, the usual kind of stuff, but Cillian is good to go,” declared Barrs manager Paul O’Keeffe.

“At this time of the year there are always one or two with niggles, but we have a decent panel and we can mix and match if we need to.” 

Hayes’s presence around the middle is seen as a big plus for the Togher club.

“We’re delighted with the news. On the night the referee saw it as a red and fair enough you could interpret it that way. But, when you looked at it in slow motion you could see there was no intent. Brian tried to hit with a fair shoulder.

“It looked terrible because the player’s head recoiled, but Brian is such a big man and I certainly wouldn’t like to be on the receiving end.

“We’re delighted to have him available and he’s massive boost to us,” O’Keeffe commented.

It’s a repeat of last season’s epic at the same stage with the Haven squeezing through in sudden-death penalties.

“I think we’re probably in a better place than last year in terms of man-power and the way we’re playing.

“My gut feeling tells me that. I believe we’re playing decent football and the Éire Óg game has brought us on a pile. We dug out a colossal result in a difficult game and it brings you on mentally.

“In addition, I think we’re building on every game because we were decent against Clonakilty and Éire Óg, but we also need to carry that form into Sunday.

“It’s going to be a massive battle, similar to last year, though it won’t be good for the ticker.” 

CHALLENGE

O’Keeffe admitted inconsistency during games is a huge concern.

“If we switch off for 15-20 minutes against Castlehaven, we’re done. They’ll take full advantage and won’t leave you off the hook.

“If you go seven or eight points down against Castlehaven they’ll shut up shop and you won’t get it back.

“We’re going to have to be switched on and not take a ‘sos beag’ during the game.” 

Meanwhile, Douglas manager Ray Keating believes his charges are ready.

“We have a clean bill of health and everyone is fit and raring to go,” he said.

Douglas qualified automatically for the last four and haven’t played for a month.

“It’s a little bit strange, but we have big numbers and are able to manage. We got a game in over the same weekend as the quarter-finals.

“Our juniors are going very well and they’re getting their just attention, which they deserve. Qualifying for the county junior semi-final is big boost.

“Overall, the players’ focus is very good and we’re ready. This is why you play, for times like these.” 

Douglas' Nathan Walsh keeps the ball close to his chest against Bishopstown's Sam Oakes and Pa Cronin. Picture: Gavin Browne
Douglas' Nathan Walsh keeps the ball close to his chest against Bishopstown's Sam Oakes and Pa Cronin. Picture: Gavin Browne

Keating wasn’t surprised at the way the quarter-finals panned out. “Clonakilty have huge spirit and a great belief in what they’re doing.

“We watched their game closely believing there was a good chance we’d end up playing them.” 

FIXTURES: 

SATURDAY: 

Co-Op Superstores county SAHC semi-final: Fr O’Neill’s v Bride Rovers, Pairc Ui Chaoimh, 1pm.

PIHC semi-final: Valley Rovers v Courcey Rovers, Pairc Ui Rinn, 1pm.

JAFC semi-final: Douglas v Ballinhassig, Ballyanley, 2pm.

JAHC semi-finals: Ballygiblin v Passage, Riverstown, 2pm; St Ita’s v Dromtarriffe, Mallow, 3pm.

JBHC semi-finals: Newtownshandrum v Kilbrittain, Ovens, 2pm; Belgooly v Freemount, Donoughmore, 2pm.

Bon Secours county PSFC relegation play-off: Carrigaline v Ilen Rovers, Rosscarbery, 3pm.

PIFC semi-finals: Kanturk v Aghada, Mourneabbey, 3pm; Cill na Martra v Newmarket, Glantane, 3pm.

IAFC semi-final: Iveleary v Aghabullogue, Kilmurry, 3pm.

JBFC final: Randal Óg v Goleen, Pairc Ui Rinn, 3pm.

SAFC semi-finals: St Michael’s v Dohenys, Pairc Ui Chaoimh, 5pm; Mallow v Ballingeary, 6.45.

SUNDAY: 

PSFC semi-finals: Douglas v Clonakilty, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 1pm; St Finbarr’s v Castlehaven, 3pm.

JBFC (Divisions) semi-final: Urhan v Dripsey, Kealkil, 2pm.

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