Cathail O'Mahony: Scoring power key for Ballygiblin at Croke Park

North Cork club set to face Easkey of Sligo in Saturday's All-Ireland Club JHC final
Cathail O'Mahony: Scoring power key for Ballygiblin at Croke Park

Ballygiblin's Cathail O'Mahony (right) and Bernard Feeney of Easkey pictured at Croke Park ahead of Saturday's All-Ireland Club JHC final. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

A NOTABLE feature of Ballygiblin’s run to a second successive AIB All-Ireland Club JHC final has been the way that the scoring duties have been shared.

In the county Premier JHC final win over Tracton, for instance, Joseph O’Sullivan scored ten points with Darragh Flynn landing 1-3, while Shane Beston notched 3-3 in the Munster final against Limerick’s St Kieran’s.

Mark Keane at centre-back is integral too and the ensemble cast is further rounded out by the presence of Cork footballer Cathail O’Mahony, who missed almost the entirety of 2021 but has been a regular contributor on the scoresheet.

The North Cork side will return to Croke Park tomorrow as they face Sligo’s Easkey in the decider and O’Mahony feels that having so many potential match-winners is a massive asset.

“It kind of takes the pressure off the big lads as well, Mark and Darragh,” he says.

“Mark's a powerful man in the air and every game he stamps his mark on it. Even just having him at the back, but his ball-playing abilities then out from the back, to find fellas up front, it's huge for a small club like us. It's huge to have him back.

“If the opposition only have one or two men to mark, when there's more fellas than that to be marked, fellas that can step up, it does help a lot with everybody on the pitch.

“If the other team come up with a gameplan to lock them down, to try to take them out of the game, somebody else is going to stand up. Shane Beston is going to score three goals in the Munster final as he did, or whatever.”

Cathail O'Mahony in action against Graham Webb of Tracton in last October's Co-op SuperStores Cork Premier JHC final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Jim Coughlan
Cathail O'Mahony in action against Graham Webb of Tracton in last October's Co-op SuperStores Cork Premier JHC final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Jim Coughlan

Last year, O’Mahony was a frustrated spectator as Ballygiblin lost by a point to Kilkenny’s Mooncoin, sidelined by a hamstring injury.

However, the defeat wasn’t something that was dwelt upon, with the club carrying their momentum from the 2021 county JAHC win and going back-to-back in the premier junior grade. The fifth tier had previously been known as the lower intermediate championship but the renaming meant that the winners went forward from Cork for the provincial junior championship.

That has allowed Ballygiblin to retrace their steps and, hopefully, go one further.

“Obviously, the lads were gutted last year, even just to lose by a single point as well,” O’Mahony says.

“I'd say now they feel that they're in a better position than they were last year. Their hurling is definitely better alright.

“So they probably feel more confident coming on the back of that experience that they have. I think they'll feel like they're in a great place.”

And, while they will literally be in a great place when they take to the Croke Park field, the fact that it’s not a new experience will help.

“Definitely,” says O’Mahony, who has lined out there for Cork.

“If it's your first time in Croke Park, there might be nerves or people might feel afraid of the big occasion.

“But the lads have that in the back pocket now. 

They know what they're facing, they know what the stadium is like and they're just excited. They can't wait to get out there now.”

The fact that the club and inter-county seasons are now demarcated is something that O’Mahony is fully on board with.

“I think the split season is probably the best thing that could happen to a GAA player,” he says.

“It allows you, if you wanted to travel for six months, say myself, if you wanted to go to America you have the option of doing it as well.

“Even just the lengthy period of time that you get to spend with the club rather than chopping and changing and coming back and forward. And kind of two managers wanting you there rather than one that is over you, and then your club manager.”

Guiding the Ballygiblin fortunes is coach Ronan Dwane and O’Mahony is full of praise for what the Aghada man brings.

“I found working with Ronan very good,” he says, “he's a very calm man.

“No matter what happens, or whatever comes against you, he always has a plan. To be fair, he is a man you can trust and he always knows the other team very well so when you get on the field you know what you're coming up against.

“There'll be no kind of strange [surprises] stuff on the field.”

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