Fr O'Neills v Kanturk preview: Injuries and dual demands the key factors 

SAHC decider takes place this Sunday in Páirc Uí Chaoimh between two teams who came through tough semi-finals
Fr O'Neills v Kanturk preview: Injuries and dual demands the key factors 

Eoin Motherway of Fr O'Neills breaks from Bride Rovers' Daniel Dooley and Paddy O'Flynn during the Co-Op SuperStores SAHC semi-final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh last Saturday. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

MOST clubs, even at premier senior level, would struggle without the services of an inter-county star.

That was the scenario that Fr O’Neills had been in since the start of the Co-op SuperStores SAHC, with Ger Millerick unavailable since picking up a hamstring injury while playing for Cork in the All-Ireland hurling semi-final against Kilkenny.

Then, prior to last week’s East Cork derby county semi-final against Bride Rovers, star attacker Declan Dalton – who had scored 3-30 in their three group games and had been introduced as a sub in the All-Ireland final loss to Limerick – was ruled out due to a foot problem.

Such setbacks – and the injury-enforced absence of Liam O’Driscoll – were brushed aside, however, and the Ballymacoda/Ladysbridge side came out on the right side of a 1-19 to 1-15 scoreline at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Jason Hankard’s first-half goal gave O’Neills a great start and Kevin O’Sullivan took over the dead-ball mantle from Dalton, landing 13 points in total.

Though Bride did come back to within a score after a Cian O’Connor goal during the second half, O’Neills remained resolute, with their dogged attitude personified by the strong defending of Seán O’Connor and Mark O’Keeffe.

O’Neills will take heart from the way they reached a second straight final, but they will have it all to do again in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday afternoon against Kanturk (1.30pm).

The Duhallow club are playing the first of two consecutive county finals, with a PIFC decider against divisional rivals Newmarket to come as they look to repeat the PIHC/IFC double of 2017.

They took faced trying circumstances in their semi-final against Newcestown, albeit after a god start. Having scored the game’s first five points, they trailed by eight midway through the second half but goals from Liam O’Keeffe and Ryan Walsh helped them to force extra time. They successfully came through that to win by 4-23 to 0-26, with 13 different scorers across the 80 minutes.

The high level of crossover between the two panels has allowed one code to feed off the other, with Lorcán McLoughlin, Ian Walsh and Lorcan O’Neill among those who have starred for both teams.

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