Cork GAA talking points: Duhallow derby delivers high drama while Chris Óg Jones deserves a Rebel call

Éamonn Murphy reflects on a bumper weekend as the club campaign winds on Leeside winds down
Cork GAA talking points: Duhallow derby delivers high drama while Chris Óg Jones deserves a Rebel call

Newmarket's Conor O'Keeffe shoots from Kanturk's Liam Cashman during the Bon Secours Cork PIFC final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

1. DERBY DRAMA:

A double dream dashed for Kanturk, a stunning finish from Newmarket, the Premier Intermediate Football final in baltic Páirc Uí Chaoimh was engrossing.

Trailing by two points coming down the stretch, having been ahead by two at half-time, Newmarket kept at it and grabbed the key scores when it mattered.

Conor O'Keeffe kicked some lovely points and Ryan O'Keeffe landed the winner but their collective work-rate, swarm tackling and support play was the foundation for their success. Underdogs coming in, with Kanturk eager to atone for their 2020 final loss to another Duhallow rival, Knocknagree, Newmarket replicated their victory from 10 years ago when they stunned Clyda Rovers.

Newmarket's John Ryan breaks from Kanturk's Mark Healy. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Newmarket's John Ryan breaks from Kanturk's Mark Healy. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Paudie Allen, veterans TJ Brosnan and Bart Daly, Gavin Forde, Kevin O'Sullivan, Mikey Cottrell and Alan Ryan all made vital plays across the 60-odd minutes. All-Ireland winning Cork U20 keeper Josh O'Keeffe pulled a critical save from Kanturk sub Daniel O'Connell.

Lorcán McLoughlin, Man of the Match when Kanturk won the Senior A hurling final two weeks ago, was immense in the second half and as always the Walsh clan was at the heart of Kanturk's challenge. For long stages, they looked likely victors, but couldn't hit the goal they needed to frank their dominance in that second half.

Perhaps burnout was a factor for the dual stars but John McLoughlin could have ended up climbing the steps to collect the cup had a break of a ball gone Kanturk's way.

Lastly, referee John Ryan deserves credit for allowing the game flow, it was hard-hitting, physical and gripping as a consequence.

2. CHRIS ÓG JONES FOR CORK:

Iveleary captured the delayed 2020 Junior A title on the back of their deadly forward's accuracy, hitting a stunning 3-8 in the decider against Boherbue.

Jones and Iveleary's form carried into the IAFC campaign, where he plundered 5-29 on the path to another final and then another 0-8, six from play, in Sunday's final defeat of Mitchelstown. It's safe to say new Cork manager will be accessing his inter-county credentials in the coming months.

 Iveleary ace Chris Óg Jones shoots past Mitchelstown's Fionn Herlihy. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Iveleary ace Chris Óg Jones shoots past Mitchelstown's Fionn Herlihy. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

St Finbarr's Steven Sherlock already revealed after clipping the winner in the Premier SFC final that he'll be returning to the Rebel squad once his club commitments have concluded. The clinical finishing of Brian Hurley, second top-scorer to Sherlock across Castlehaven's run to the semi-final, shows he'll remain a key figure for Cork even under new management. 

There are plenty of promising young attackers from the U20 All-Ireland win Ricken oversaw in 2019, including Damien Gore, Cathail O'Mahony (if he can overcome his injury issues), Mark Cronin and Blake Murphy, who was frustrated with his lack of game-time under Ronan McCarthy but has plenty to offer.

Chris Óg Jones kicked 0-7 for the Cork U20s back in 2018 in defeat to Kerry. 

From that underage team Maurice Shanley, Liam O'Donovan, Mark Keane, Colm O'Callaghan, Gore, Cronin, Nathan Walsh, Tadhg Corkery, Kevin O'Donovan and Aidan Browne have all played senior. Jones' elevation is overdue.

The challenge for 2022 for Ricken and his selectors will be refreshing the team while challenging for Division 2 promotion and carrying that form into the Munster semi-final against Kerry. Chris Óg Jones can be part of that.

3. PÁIRC LIFE

With the championship throwing in early next year to facilitate clubs and the split-season, Ed Sheeran's Páirc Uí Chaoimh concerts will have an impact on Cork in both codes.

The surface in the Páirc will be repaired in May after his shows, ruling the venue out from hosting the hurlers' round-robin clash with Clare, as well as Cork-Kerry.

Both those games will most likely be shifted up the road to Páirc Uí Rinn, to protect the Rebels' home advantage. While the aim is to upgrade the ground to accommodate 15,000, up from 11,400, whatever the capacity is set at, tickets will be in high demand. 

The cauldron of a packed Páirc Uí Rinn could be an advantage for the Rebels against Kerry, especially.

4. A TOP JOB:

Joe Blake's three-year term as Cork PRO concluded this weekend at the convention. In a role that's busier than ever in the social media age, the Adrigole club man was always available and extremely helpful to everyone covering Gaelic Games on Leeside.

Joe Blake at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Joe Blake at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

That was particularly important during a period overshadowed by Covid when uncertainty reigned. 

The best of luck to Francis Kenneally as his successor.

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