WHAT a weekend of football action, full of attacking play.
The great pitch in Páirc Uí Chaoimh and dry weather gave the opportunity for football ability to stand out.
I'll start with my own involvement with Clyda Rovers against Knocknagree in the Senior A semi-final. If you get lucky to represent Cork, you want to play in Croke Park. Similarly, every club player wants to play in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. It was a great feeling to run out in the new Páirc under lights on Saturday night.
Scoring 1-15 gave Clyda a great chance of winning. Unfortunately, while it may have been great for the neutral to watch conceding 1-17 was just too much. Both teams showed their resilience after suffering setbacks and going a few points down.
The difference though was Knocknagree had that greater composure and team play in the closing quarter, particularly in the attacking third, aided by the introduction of Cork senior Eoghan McSweeney after halftime.
St Michael's will prove formidable opponents in a few weeks, knowing them well from my involvement with Éire Óg. Considering their championship record and balanced team, they have been everyone's tip since the start.
Yes, Kevin Davis and Tomás Hegarty had good individual moments but O’Donovan Rossa did not take full advantage with a few goals chances missed.
Once Michael's regained their composure with better use of possession they created good scoring opportunities. This also took the momentum out of O’Donovan Rossa’s comeback, aided by the introduction of Billy Cain at midfield, Tom Linehan’s pace, and the spread of scorers.
It was put to bed with 10 minutes to go with two goals in 60 seconds. The first stemmed from a long Skibb kick-out. A similar goal was scored v Knocknagree in the group stage in Carrigadrohid. It will be interesting to see will this pattern continue through to the final.
In the first Premier semi-final, Nemo Rangers were deserving winners over Ballincollig. Winning in sport is complex and what works for one team may work for another. What worked for Nemo was their ability to create enough scoring chances even with extra defenders back.
Ballincollig were similarly set up but it was just too easy for Nemo in the second half. Certainly, Nemo learned from the Carbery Rangers win, showing more composure and patience here. This was led by Mark Cronin's industriousness and Conor Horgan’s excellent finishing.
Ballincollig will be very disappointed. Yes, they were defending for a period late in the first half after losing a few kick-outs but you still felt every time they got possession they had the ability to land good points of their own.
Once Luke Connolly converted the penalty it was game over. The concession of the penalty came when Ballincollig’s play became inconsistent, Nemo dictating the terms.
Everyone was expecting a cracker of a second semi-final between Castlehaven and St Finbarr's. It was certainly exciting with some excellent scores. St Finbarr’s deserved the win but missed a number of goal chances in the first half.
Castlehaven will have some regrets. The game was tied at the end of the third quarter and they were playing well led by the Cahalane brothers and Cathal Maguire’s direct play. Maguire stood out, landing a variety of scores. The injury stoppage for Brian Hurley curtailed some of their momentum.
It came down to the conversion of two goals from Steven Sherlock and Brian Hayes a few minutes apart. Yes, both players showing their ability with excellent composed finishes but defensively Castlehaven will be disappointed.
Castlehaven as you would expect responded again but the damage was done.
Kanturk and Bantry will make for an exciting Premier Intermediate final in a few weeks. Kanturk scraped home with a one-point extra-time win over rivals Cill Na Martra. Well done Kanturk but at this stage, Cill Na Marta must be wondering what they must do to achieve promotion.
Like many games last weekend, Bantry scored goals at crucial stages in the second half which gave them the edge over Iveleary. It is never enjoyable getting relegated but Bantry’s demotion from Senior A grade last year allowed them to restore confidence and a feel-good factor.
Kanturk will need their 'A game' for the final.