Castlemartyr v Sars: Intermediate A Hurling final preview 

Having won the 2020 LIHC in August, Castlemartyr go in search of IAHC glory on Saturday night
Castlemartyr v Sars: Intermediate A Hurling final preview 

Barry Lawton of Castlemartyr in action against Cloughduv's Cormac O'Driscoll in the Co-op SuperStores Cork IAHC semi-final a fortnight ago. Picture: Jim Coughlan

CASTLEMARTYR will hope to squeeze one more performance out of themselves at Páirc Uí Chaoimh this evening and make 2021 a year to really remember.

They face Sarsfields in an all-East Cork Co-op SuperStores Cork IAHC final (7pm), just three months after beating Russell Rovers in the 2020 lower intermediate final, which was held over from last year.

Seizing the momentum that came from that victory, Castlemartyr won all three of their group games against Blackrock, Douglas and Mayfield to take an automatic semi-final spot, beating Cloughduv there to reach the decider. Manager Séamus Lawton agrees that the LIHC victory was a help in giving them a platform for the step up, but also points out that there has been a lot of mileage accrued in the calendar year.

“It was a help, certainly initially,” he says. “You might be afraid of tiredness at this stage, we’ve been going so long.

Since we came back after lockdown, we were building up for a county final and it definitely gave us momentum after that. It’s just hard to know now what stage we’re at.”

Castlemartyr’s only injury worry is Jamie Stack, but otherwise they should be at full strength. They had a chance to recharge after the group stage as the quarter-finals were avoided, with no subsequent rustiness in the last four.

“That’s always the debate,” Lawton says, “whether you’re better off going straight into the semi-final or playing another match.

“We won it, so I suppose you’d say it was okay for us, but it is always a concern.”

The game is a repeat of the 2009 Imokilly JAHC final, Castlemartyr’s first divisional title in 45 years. Brian Lawton, Barry Lawton, Barra Ó Tuama and Adrian Bowles are their survivors while Garry Grey and Cormac Duggan were involved for Sars 12 years ago and will be again. Lawton expects a tough battle.

“We’ve played Sars a lot over the years and they’ve always been tight games,” he says. “They always have good hurlers. You’ll always have earned your victory if you can get it.”

LIHC

That game is preceded by the meeting of Kilbrittain and Lisgoold in the lower IHC final at 5pm. Last year, Kilbrittain were beaten at the semi-final stage by Castlemartyr and now they face another side on a high, with Lisgoold having won the 2020 junior title in August.

Kilbrittain manager Jamie Wall is keen for big games like this to become the norm rather than the exception.

“We’ve been saying to the lads that, win or lose, the aim next year is going to be to try to get back to a big game,” he says.

We’re trying to stay away from language like, ‘These days don’t come around too often’.

"Look at Castlemartyr this year – they went straight up and they’re in a final again. There’s no reason why, if you won, you wouldn’t be targeting getting back into a final and if you lost, you know you’re good enough to make a final so you’d be wanting to repeat that.

"As long as you’re putting in the work during the year, there’s no reason why you can’t be putting yourself in the position to have these big days and it’s important to enjoy them because they’re good days out.”

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