Paudie Palmer: Cork clubs showcase the best of Gaelic football 

A brilliant double-header, with Clon beating Douglas and the Barrs pipping Castlehaven, was the ideal advert for Cork football 
Paudie Palmer: Cork clubs showcase the best of Gaelic football 

Brian Hurley blasts in a goal for Castlehaven in the second half against St Finbarr's. Picture: Larry Cummins

TO begin, our thanks to the four teams who arrived on to Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday last, who not alone represented themselves in a positive light but also struck a blow for Gaelic football. 

The curtain-raiser, if that is the correct term for the game, saw an ever-improving Clonakilty team defeat Douglas and in doing so qualify for their 22nd county final. They have won nine up to now. The reason why that statistic may be significant is that it explains the esteem the brewery town holds itself when it comes to big ball matters. 

History may weigh heavily but equally it confers status. From their first appearance in 1932 across the next 50 years, Clon played in 16 county finals, winning seven. 

In the intervening 39 years, they have contested five, with two wins, significantly their last appearance was in 2009 when they defeated St Finbarr's.

The narrative prior to throw-in was the semi-final with Douglas would be a contest between two solid defensive units without high-quality shooters. Not exactly, how it panned out with Alan O'Hare putting in a really impressive display as a scoring forward for the city representative. 

But unfortunately for them, they need a few more in the future. Not wishing to offer the black and green advice, but this scenario will need addressing if they wish to dine at the big table.

Clonakilty on the other hand, had Sean McEvoy landing four points from play and Ross Mannix chipping in with two. A similar return the next day could go some way to upsetting the present odds. 

QUALITY ADDITIONS

Another aspect of the Clon display was the contribution of their three new players. 

Ben Ridgeway from Offaly and Joe Grimes from Listowel provide a physical presence in midfield while Dara O'Shea, originally from An Gaeltacht, is a reliable free-taker.

The West Cork team are also fortunate, that their sideline general Haulie O'Neill is a knowledgable and respectable figure not only in the club but in the town. 

Are they good enough to win it? Not sure about that yet.

Clonakilty goalkeeper Mark White delivers a pass, after a surging run upfield against Duhallow. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Clonakilty goalkeeper Mark White delivers a pass, after a surging run upfield against Duhallow. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

St Finbarr’s will be their most challenging opponents thus far. Can you imagine if they came up with a strategy to curb the influence of Steven Sherlock?

You don’t need me, to remind you, that the second semi-final was as good as has been witnessed in the old or new park for quite a while. 

If these two were attached to the world of boxing, all the main promoters would be lining up with deep pockets to stage the trilogy between the Barrs and Castlehaven. 

Hopefully 2022, will provide it.

Much of the discussion in the aftermath centred around the decision to decide the contest on penalties.  Why couldn't a replay be arranged next weekend?

Honestly, I don’t think that you can change rules during a competition. 

Cork’s policy of knockout championship games, finishing on the day serves this county well because of the volume of dual players. 

I agree 100% that losing on penalties is a cruel occurrence. Come to think of it, any form of losing isn’t pleasant!

Because Cork is such a big county with the largest multitude of competitions of any other county in the country, if strict guidelines aren’t applied, competitions won’t be finished on time. 

Back to Sunday’s game, the headlines from a Barrs' point of view were probably dominated by scoring sensation Steven Sherlock and penalty king John Kerins. 

However, there is a lot more to this crowd. In one sense, it is a wee pity from their point of view the injuries to Eoin Comyns and Cillian Myers Murray prevent them from playing a fuller part. 

Then there is Conor McCrickard, the Down native who must have thought that someone was conspiring against him early on, but when the final tallies were returned, he had 1-2 after his name. 

We will see how he gets on against the Westerners. Players such as Jamie Burns, Sam Ryan, Billy Hennessy and Brian Hayes appear to relish blue-collar activity.

Penalty takers Michael Shields and John Kerins celebrate after the end of the shootout against Castlehaven last weekend. Picture: Larry Cummins
Penalty takers Michael Shields and John Kerins celebrate after the end of the shootout against Castlehaven last weekend. Picture: Larry Cummins

Now a wee visit to our dual teams that are still involved. 

Kanturk, who over the past two weekends, have provided serious evidence to suggest that Houdini must have connections with the town. 

In the Senior A hurling, the weekend before last, they were down a man and shot of points against Newcestown but somehow forced extra time and then emerged victorious. 

They now face Fr O’Neill's in Sunday’s final at 1pm.

Then last Saturday in the PIFC semi-final, they were down two men and a point with the clock in red against Aghada. 

Cian Clernon kicked the equaliser and Kyrle Holland landed the winner. Next up the final against the neighbours from Newmarket.

JUNIOR JOY

What about Ballinhassig? We are all aware of their hurling prowess which, by the way, will be severely tested in this Saturday’s PIHC semi-final against Castlelyons. The club was formed 135 years ago and two late points against Douglas last weekend in the JAFC semi-final ensured that the club had reached a county football final for the first time ever.

Finally, let us head once again to Junior B land. 

Last Saturday, Randal Óg a small rural club based in Ballynacarriga just outside Dunmanway defeated Goleen in the County Junior B Football final, for first teams only. 

In two weeks, they will play the semi-final of the hurling equivalent. 

If that is not enough, they have also reached the last four of the County Junior B Championship Divisional competition, which is open to all clubs, including second and third teams.

The dual mandate lives on!

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more