IT seems ridiculous that St Finbarr’s and Castlehaven are meeting in the semi-finals of the Premier Senior Football Championship for the third successive year.
Shur they might as well go straight to penalties and save the trouble of running around for 80 minutes I hear you say! In a way, it’s no great surprise.
These last three championships have coincided with the introduction of the group stages, which can only be viewed as hugely positive step in terms of a championship structure, as it guarantees teams a certain amount of meaningful matches every year at the grade they are most suited to.
It also has the effect of ensuring that the top sides are less likely to get caught out and eliminated early doors, as they can regather the troops in the event of a shock. Back in 2019 and beyond, that might not have been the case.
Nemo Rangers did get burnt in last year’s group stage, but it’s no great surprise that the Barrs and Castlehaven have reached the last four in each of the last three years, while Nemo have made two of them.
No other side has reached the last four more than once in these three years, with four sides getting that far on one occasion each.
It seems that the championship is crying out for new blood to come along and rock the aforementioned big three, but it is difficult to see who that club, or indeed division or college, could be.
Clonakilty looked like they might become a big player in the championship after pushing the Barr’s to within a solitary point last year but the loss of sharpshooter Dara O’Shea has seen them withdraw back into the chasing pack this year.
It remains to be seen whether they can strengthen their attack enough to threaten the big boys in the next year or two.
It’s easy to forget that Duhallow reached the last four every year from 2017 to 2020, but they never turned any of those campaigns into a county title. They seem to have dropped off a level now and look a level or two off Nemo, Castlehaven and the Barrs.
Similarly, Carbery Rangers reached the semi-final stages in five successive years from 2014 to 2018, which is a brilliant achievement looking back, and they do have that historic 2016 title they won against Ballincollig to look back upon for all that effort.
Those five semi-final appearances put them right up there with the big three when it comes to last-four appearances in the last decade. Their five appearances match the Barrs, with only Castlehaven on six and Nemo on eight having more.
All of the Barrs' semi-final appearances have come since 2017, with 2019 being the only year since that they failed to get that far. It’s safe to say this is a glory period for the Togher side.
That one point 2-16 to 2-15 victory over Douglas in the relegation playoff in 2007 seems a long time ago now.
Castlehaven can be proud that they are a big player annually, but they must be extremely frustrated that their only county title in the past decade was won back in 2013.
You have to feel that they have to make hay in the next year or two or their chance may go for this current crop.
They must look jealously at Nemo Rangers, with four county titles garnered from seven visits to the last four, although that level of success is no surprise when you consider Nemo’s ridiculous win rate when they reach finals.
Overall, 22 county titles have been won from just 26 county finals. For the record, the years they lost finals were 1970, 1992, 1999 and 2013. Those defeats must have been strange experiences for the Capwell club!
So we can expect some entertaining dogfights to finish out this year between the big three to decide who gets to be the kingpins for 2022, and the likelihood is that we will be saying the exact same thing this time next year.