LAST year was Jamie Wall’s first in charge of his native Kilbrittain.
While preparations were limited, like everyone else’s, they reached the semi-finals of the Co-op SuperStores Cork Lower IHC, losing out to Castlemartyr, who went on to claim the title in August of this year, beating Russell Rovers.
With more time to tune things this time around, 29-year-old Wall has brought the side to the county final, with Lisgoold the opposition in Páirc Uí Chaoimh tomorrow evening (5pm).
Kilbrittain were just edged out by IAHC side Blackrock in the league final and the championship has gone well, beating Argideen Rangers, Dripsey and Grenagh to take an automatic semi-final spot.
In the last four, they beat Tracton while Lisgoold, who had also taken the direct route, saw off Ballygarvan. Wall expects a massive challenge from the 2021 junior champions, who have continued their momentum in impressive fashion.
“They’re a phenomenal club,” he says.
“They’ve nearly had a player knocking around Cork minor panels for the last number of years and they’re flying at underage, producing a lot of really good young hurlers.
“They have guys playing senior hurling with Imokilly and guys who’ve played with Midleton CBS so we’re under no illusions as to the ability of the players they have. You’d be foolish to be under any illusions because nobody wins the junior championship in Cork easily.
"They’re a club that has a very good trajectory.”
Maurice Sexton is likely to be the chief score-getter for Kilbrittain while Tom Harrington can also make key contributions in attack alongside Philip Wall. James Hurley and Ross Cashman man the central defensive positions well while veteran goalkeeper Alan Hayes is a calming presence. Lisgoold will look to the likes of Liam O’Shea, John Cashman, John Cronin and his brother Ciarán in goal.
Like Lisgoold, Castlemartyr have adapted well to a higher grade and they beat Douglas, Blackrock and Mayfield to top their group and earn a semi-final spot. There, they beat Cloughduv, setting up an all-East Cork final at 5pm tomorrow evening in Páirc Uí Chaoimh against Sarsfields.
The Lawton brothers, Brian and Barry, Ciarán Joyce, Mike and Andrew Kelly and Joe Stack ensure that Castlemartyr have quality all over the field, but Sars’ second team – beaten by Castlemartyr in the 2009 East Cork junior final – can call on the experience of Garry Grey, Eoin O’Sullivan and Cormac Duggan while Shane O’Driscoll and James O’Leary ensure that there is no shortage of firepower.
In the Premier IHC, Courcey Rovers will learn their final opponents as Castlelyons – beaten by Blarney in last year’s decider – clash with Ballinhassig in the second semi-final at Páirc Uí Rinn at 3pm.
The south-east side, who are chasing a double as they have a JAFC date against Boherbue coming up, don’t lack attacking talent and Cormac Desmond, Evan Cullinane and Fintan O’Leary all played big roles in the quarter-final win over Carrigaline. It’s Castlelyons’ first game since beating Inniscarra in their last group match on October 10 and they will look to Jack and Colm Barry, Anthony Spillane and David Morrison for inspiration.
That game is preceded by the junior A decider between Dromtarriffe and Ballygiblin, which takes place at 1pm in Páirc Uí Rinn. Since winning the Duhallow title, Dromtarriffe beat Ballinora by 1-19 to 0-8 and then saw off St Ita’s by 1-18 to 0-11. Seán Howard and Tomás Howard are big scoring threats for them along with Daniel O’Keeffe while Jack Murphy is an influential figure at midfield.
The Avondhu divisional champions Ballygiblin benefited from a bye at the county quarter-final stage but the rest helped them as they beat Passage by 1-16 to 2-11 in their semi-final. Cork U20 star Darragh Flynn is a leading light for Ballygiblin and his dead-ball accuracy is of vital importance. Joseph O’Sullivan and Michael Walsh are others who can be effective.
Elsewhere, Newtownshandrum take on Belgooly in the final of the inter-divisional JBHC at 2pm in Mallow.