TRUST Jack Frost to fling his tuppenceworth into the discussions at the most inopportune time. The Cork-Limerick McGrath Cup final was originally listed for Wednesday but put back to tonight in Mallow, where there is a 7.30pm throw-in.
That was purely to facilitate the number of players, which amounts to double figures in Cork’s case, involved in Sigerson Cup action during the week, but the Arctic weather intervened to cause further disruption.
MTU Cork’s second-round game away to league winners NUI Maynooth, which they won, was scheduled for Tuesday night but deferred 48 hours because of a frozen pitch.
It effectively rules out Sean Meehan (Kiskeam), Tommy Walsh (Kanturk) and Paul Ring (Aghabullogue) for tonight’s game, at least from the start anyway though Rory Maguire is named at midfield in the absence of the Barrs' Ian Maguire.
The first three mentioned started against Kerry while Ring was introduced during the second half for the Clare encounter in Quilty last Sunday. And there are bound to be a couple of others who’ve not been seen yet.
Micheál Aodh Martin (Nemo Rangers);
Thomas Clancy (Clonakilty), Daniel O’Mahony (Knocknagree), Kevin O’Donovan (Nemo Rangers);
Luke Fahy (Ballincollig), Sean Powter (Douglas), Matty Taylor (Mallow);
Colm O’Callaghan (Éire Óg), Rory Maguire (Castlehaven);
Eoghan McSweeney (Knocknagree), Killian O’Hanlon (Kilshannig), Brian O’Driscoll (Tadhg Mac Carthaigh);
Chris Óg Jones (Iveleary), Brian Hurley (Castlehaven, c), Steven Sherlock (St Finbarr’s).
Chris Kelly (Éire Óg), Tommy Walsh (Kanturk), Paul Ring (Aghabullogue), Sean Meehan (Kiskeam), Cian Kiely (Ballincollig), Shane Merrit (Mallow), Paul Walsh (Kanturk), John O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers), Ruairí Deane (Bantry Blues), Mark Cronin (Nemo Rangers), Maurice Shanley (Clonakilty), Darragh Cashman (Millstreet).
UCC were in action on Wednesday when they travelled to Tuam to play ATU Galway and again there were Cork players involved in a much-changed College side, which rebounded from the UL defeat at the Mardyke in shocking conditions to record a 1-12 to 0-8 victory.
Maurice Shanley (Clonakilty) and Daniel O’Mahony (Knocknagree) were in from the start once again, but Mark Cronin (Nemo Rangers), Fionn Herlihy (Dohenys) and Shane Merritt (Mallow) made the first 15 on this occasion, having been sprung from the bench last week.
There was also a welcome return to the big ball version for Cathail O’Mahony (Mitchelstown), who’s studying in UCC having attended Mary Immaculate College in Limerick.
He won a treasured All-Ireland Club junior hurling medal with Ballygiblin last weekend and quickly turned his attentions to football, introduced as an impact substitute in the closing quarter-hour.
O’Mahony was involved in the critical goal scored by Sean O’Connor (Clonmel Commercials), also on as a substitute, a strung run carrying him clear and while keeper Jack Livingstone (Breaffy) made a great save, O’Connor ushered in the rebound.
The ace sharpshooter could well be an option, particularly as Conor Corbett (Clyda Rovers), who started against Kerry, was also playing Sigerson last evening when DCU visited Belfast to play Queen’s University.
Only one game survived the Arctic blast earlier in the week, UL, conquerors of UCC in round 1, losing a penalty shoot-out to TU Dublin at home, having been six points in front at half-time.
There was a dramatic turnaround, when the visitors posted 2-5 without response only for the Limerick students to respond impressively, scoring four points on the spin to force extra-time, 1-14 to 3-8.
The rivals couldn’t be separated then either, but the Dublin side prevailed in the shoot-out, winning 3-1, though UL get one more chance. Their team included Darragh Cashman (Millstreet), Mark Lenahan (Buttevant) and Sean McDonnell (Mallow).
Cork topped their group with those wins over Kerry and Clare, using 29 players, while Limerick only edged out Tipperary on scoring difference after their exciting draw following both counties’ victories over Waterford.
O’Mahony and Brian Hurley (penalty) supplied the goals with Steven Sherlock contributing 0-8, John O’Rourke 0-3 and Eoghan McSweeney 0-2. It was Billy Lee’s last game as Limerick manager following a six-year innings.
Waterford were the inaugural winners of the competition in 1981, when it was the preserve of the so-called ‘weaker’ counties back then, Cork and Kerry non-participants.
Clare, Limerick and Tipperary also got their hands on the trophy as did London in 1988 with a team captained by Robbie Dwyer and it wasn’t until 1996 that the big two poked their noses into the discussion.
Kerry won it that season and Cork the next year.
The Rebels are aiming for a 10th title, their first since 2018 when Bishopstown’s Jamie O’Sullivan led the side.
Limerick were last winners in 2020 with Iain Corbett as skipper and they were replaced by Kerry in 2022. The Shannonsiders seek their seventh title.