IT’S of little consolation to Brian Hurley that the Cork and Castlehaven star tops the scoring charts going into the final game of the Bon Secours county PSFC.
Defeat at the hands of the defending champions St Finbarr’s in last weekend’s gripping semi-final brings an end to his season though he departs having accumulated 1-33 to point the way for the others to follow.
Hurley was his side’s main marksman in all five games, hitting a high of 0-9 in another exciting game against Nemo Rangers in the second game in the group stage, the city club edging it by 3-13 to 1-16.
His return against the ’Barr’s was a point less while younger brother Michael came in as the Haven’s second best finisher with 3-8, finding the net in his last three outings against Newcestown, Mallow and the ’Barr’s.
Will Brian remain in number one slot after the ’Barr’s-Nemo final on the 30th and collect the fictional golden boot (or surgical boot given the nature of the sponsors)?
Hurley’s nearest challenger is Carbery’s Brian O’Driscoll, who impressed with his consistency in the division’s charge through the divisions/colleges section of the championship, scoring 1-27 from midfield, where he caught the eye with his energy and use of the ball.
His campaign, is also over, Carbery going down to Ballincollig by 4-11 to 1-15 in the quarter-final, and this leaves Nemo captain Luke Connolly as Hurley’s biggest threat.
He occupies third spot along with Carbery’s Ruairi Deane with 4-15 from a topsy turvy campaign from his perspective, his stats ranging from 2-4 against the Haven to just 0-1 against Clonakilty in the concluding qualifying game and leaving empty handed in the quarter-final win over Carbery Rangers.
Connolly was the obvious victim from the west Cork clubs’ use of the blanket defence on both occasions, the Nemo scoring machine having opened with 1-4 against Newcestown and adding 1-6 in last weekend’s quarter-final victory over Ballincollig.
His wide range also includes converting ’45s with apparent minimum fuss and effort, twice finding the range against Ballincollig and again in the opening game against Newcestown in treacherous conditions in Brinny.
Connolly has a nine-point gap to make up on Hurley, a repeat from the Ballincollig game would bring him level while his contribution from the Haven encounter would edge him in front by a point.
Two of his goals came from penalties, the first against the Haven, the other last weekend and both featured similar approaches with Connolly giving the keepers no chance with powerful kicks high into the net, practically impossible to stop.
Deane was a colossus for Carbery and extended that form by leading his club Bantry Blues to the final of the PIFC against Kanturk on the 23rd, the school-teacher finishing with 3-18 in his division’s colours though Deane’s focus now is solely on his club and their attempts to get back to the SAFC in 2023.
Under normal circumstances you’d expect Steven Sherlock to be one of the main challengers, but the ’Barr’s ace has had a restricted campaign following minor knee surgery at the end of the inter-county season.
It forced him to miss the opening game against Eire Og and Sherlock was only introduced for the closing quarter of the next outing against Carrigaline before starting against Carbery Rangers and the Haven, when he scored 0-6 and 1-6 respectively.
To show that the holders are not too reliant on him, though, Cillian Myers-Murray and Brian Hayes both stepped up to the plate, when needed with 1-22 and 3-9 respectively in fifth and ninth positions in the standings.
Eire Og’s Danie Goulding is sixth with 0-24 just in front of Ballincollig pair Darren Murphy and Cian Dorgan, 3-14 and 2-17 respectively.
The leading PSFC scorers are:
1. Brian Hurley (Castlehaven) 1-33, 23f, 1’45.
2. Brian O’Driscoll (Carbery) 1-27, 1-0 pen, 15f, 1’45.
3. Luke Connolly (Nemo Rangers) 4-15, 2-0 pens, 6f, 3’45s and Ruairi Deane (Carbery) 3-18, 13f.
5. Cillian Myers-Murray (St Finbarr’s) 1-22, 11f.
6. Daniel Goulding (Eire Og) 0-24, 19f.
7. Darren Murphy (Ballincollig) 3-14 and Cian Dorgan (do) 2-17, 2-0 pens, 8f.
9. Brian Hayes (St Finbarr’s) 3-9.
10. Michael Hurley (Castlehaven) 3-8.
11. Steven Sherlock (St Finbarr’s) 1-12, 3f.