Cork club hurling previews: Derbies dominate SAHC and PIHC semis

Denis Hurley gives his verdicts on this weekend's Senior A and Premier Intermediate last four action
Cork club hurling previews: Derbies dominate SAHC and PIHC semis

Blarney's Declan Hanlon is tackled by Bride Rovers Jason Mannix and Paddy O'Flynn during the Co-Op Superstores Cork SAHC quarter final at Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THERE are just two hurling games across county senior and intermediate championship levels this weekend, with two semi-final ties down for decision, while there are four junior games.

In the Co-op SuperStores Cork SAHC, Fr O’Neill’s take on Bride Rovers in an all-Imokilly semi-final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh (1pm) for the chance to meet Kanturk in the final.

At the same time as that, there is also a local-derby semi-final at premier intermediate level with Courcey Rovers meeting Valley Rovers in Páirc Uí Rinn.

For O’Neill’s and Bride, it’s a repeat of last year’s group-stage meeting, which the Ballymacoda/Ladysbridge side won en route to reaching the final, where they fell to Charleville by a single point.

This time round, they have matched their 2020 achievement of topping their group and moving directly to the semi-final stage, having drawn with Newcestown before beating Killeagh and Cloyne.

However, they have two major injury worries regarding Cork senior stars Ger Millerick and Declan Dalton. Millerick was impressive as Kieran Kingston’s side reached the All-Ireland final but suffered a hamstring injury in the semi-final win over Kilkenny and has not played since then. 

Dalton, scorer of 3-30 across the club’s three games so far, is a doubt after sustaining a foot injury. It should be noted, though, that they still possess top players like Billy Dunne, Mark O’Keeffe, Pádraig McMahon, Kevin O’Sullivan and Killian Broderick.

Bride Rovers won their first two games, against Ballyhea and Ballymartle, but then lost to Mallow, meaning they had to negotiate a quarter-final rather than progressing directly to the last four.

Facing Blarney in the quarters was a tough test and they fell four points behind in the first half but Michael Collins’ goal just before half-time ensured that the sides went in level at 1-10 each and Bride were excellent in the second half. 

Points from William Finnegan and Brian Roche put them in command before wing-back Paddy O’Flynn’s long delivery went all the way to the Blarney net for a 2-15 to 1-11 lead. With Cian O’Connor outstanding at midfield and goalkeeper Cian Hogan and centre-back Eoin Roche also on song, they won by 2-21 to 2-16.

PIHC

The PIHC semi-final is a repeat of the 2018 meeting of Courceys and Valleys at the same stage, with the Ballinspittle/Ballinadee side winning after a replay.

Courceys topped Group A, beating Carrigaline, Éire Óg and Youghal to bypass the quarter-final stage.

Richard Sweetnam has been in excellent scoring form from dead balls and open play Tadhg O’Sullivan and Jerry O’Neill have also been to the fore in attack for Seán Guiheen’s men. Goalkeeper Stephen Nyhan and All-Ireland U20 medallist Seán Twomey are other key men for Courceys, who reached the semi-finals last year, losing out to Castlelyons by six points.

Valleys lost to Castlelyons — who face Ballinhassig in the other semi-final — in the group stage but beat Inniscarra and Watergrasshill to take second place and a quarter-final spot.

 Eoin Carey, Kilworth, clears from Adam Kenneally, Valley Rovers, in the PIHC quarter-final. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Eoin Carey, Kilworth, clears from Adam Kenneally, Valley Rovers, in the PIHC quarter-final. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

There, the Innishannon side faced Kilwort and though Valleys lost key man Chris O’Leary to an early red card, they bounced back strongly to win by 1-12 to 0-13. Misko Savic’s first-half goal was the crucial score while the Innishannon side were also grateful to veteran goalkeeper Willie Burke for some important interventions.

In attack, the experience of Kevin Canty is a vital asset while Adam Kenneally and Colm Butler are able to make their presence felt on the scoreboard. William Hurley is a tireless presence at midfield for Valleys and in defence David Lynch and John Cottrell bring their influence to bear.

JUNIOR

Both JAHC semi-finals take place tomorrow, with Ballygiblin meeting Passage in Riverstown at 2pm and St Ita’s clashing with Dromtarriffe in Mallow at 3pm.

Passage, who claimed the city title for the first time, overcame Ballinascarthy in their quarter-final last weekend while Ballygiblin received a bye at the last-eight stage. St Ita’s built on their maiden East Cork championship with a win over Ballymartle and their opponents Dromtarriffe saw off Ballinora.

In the inter-divisional junior B championship, the last-four ties see Belgooly clash with Freemount in Donoughmore at 2pm, the same time as Newtownshandrum go up against Kilbrittain in Ovens.

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