St Michael’s once again have designs on the county SAFC title 

 The Mahon club are through to the semi-finals where they'll meet either O'Donovan Rossa or Dohenys
St Michael’s once again have designs on the county SAFC title 

Adam Hennessy of St Michael's being tackled by Bishopstown's Dara Costello at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Denis Boyle

KNOCKNAGREE were the big winners on an eventful final round of group games in the Bon Secours county SAFC.

They did a ‘Cloyne’ on it, dashing from relegation contenders before the start of their game with Fermoy to gaining the runners-up spot on scoring difference.

The Duhallow club finished with just two points, but their scoring difference of +3 bettered Bishopstown’s minus 11 and Fermoy’s minus 15.

Knocknagree meet All-Ireland Gaeltacht champions, Ballingeary, in one quarter-final for the right to face Clyda Rovers in the semis.

There’s a west Cork derby between O’Donovan Rossa and Dohenys in the other quarter-final with St Michael’s awaiting the outcome.

The Mahon club were the only side with a 100% record following their 2-19 to 2-8 win over Bishopstown to the obvious delight of manager Dave Egan.

“I was pleased with both the win and the performance,” he told the Echo.

“At this stage now we’ve no quarter-final so if we were to win we needed to do it with a bit of substance, I suppose.

“We’ve a big break and we needed that performance to carry us into the semi-final.

“We emptied the tanks and it’s three or four weeks to the semi so we have to measure that up and see where we’re going.

“We’ll sit down with the management team and we’ll plan it out.

“I thought we got the three weeks between the Fermoy and Knocknagree matches spot on.

“We took a different approach to this game and I think we got that right, as well.

“The hard work is done earlier in the year and now it’s about keeping the lads going, motivated and fresh.” 

The impressive fitness levels of the St Michael’s players were obvious from start to finish.

“We’re all together now three years and in year one we played Éire Óg in a quarter-final and they just blew us away.

“It meant we had to go back to the drawing board and we brought in a team around us, strength@conditioning guys who are doing the work with them.

“It’s grand bringing these lads in, but the players have to buy into it and they’ve done that 100%.

“They’re working hard and it’s like anything you want from life, if you want to achieve something, it ain’t going to come easily, especially in GAA.

“These lads are putting in the hours and hopefully they’ll get their reward from it.

“Getting to semi-finals and finals is grand, but it’s about getting across the line.

“Dave O’Connell is our S&C man, who is originally from Bishopstown, ironically enough. He’s with us two years.

“He missed the game because he was at a wedding in Germany and Dave, in fairness, has bought into us, especially as he’s not a GAA man, but lives for it now.

“It’s infectious because it works both ways. He gets the effort off the lads and they’re almost inseparable now. They buy into each other which is great.” 

St Michael’s had 11 scorers, including an early goal from wing-back Peter Cunningham and 0-5 from midfielder Andrew Murphy, which drew a chuckle from the manager.

“No S&C coach will give us 2-19, that comes down to the other side of it.

“These boys have talent. They’ve under-age medals in their pockets and they need to keep that confidence up.

“That’s why I said we needed to win and with something else and 2-19 gives us that. It gives us confidence going into the semi-final.” 

Conditions were surprisingly ideal for the game, which was played on a firm surface with a dry ball.

Winter football is coming, though, and that will impact.

“I’ve no issue with that because the Pairc Ui Chaoimh surface is one of the best in the country.

“We played the county final back in October last year and most of the lads wore molded cog studs.

“I was also impressed with the Pairc Ui Rinn surface.

“Some lads were giving out about in the past few weeks, but I was happy with it.

“Of course, conditions will be a factor but I don’t think there will be that much of a difference between the two.” 

For the moment, it’s all eyes on Skibb-Dohenys to determine their next opponents.

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