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Clann na nGael target big performance in county semi-final

June 21st, 2024 9:15 AM

By Kieran McCarthy

Clann na nGael target big performance in county semi-final Image
Clann na nGael's JJ Collins feels the pressure from Diarmuid Ó Mathúna's Robbie Lucey during a 2023 championship clash.

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CLANN na nGael manager Aidan McCarthy is backing his team to bring their A-game to Friday night’s McCarthy Insurance Confined Junior B Football Championship semi-final against Ballyphehane. Whether that will be enough to book a spot in the final, only time will tell.

2023 defeated finalists Ballyphehane will be favourites to advance from Friday’s clash in Clonakilty (7.30pm) and head into this tie off the back of four wins in a row, though they were pushed by Muintir Bháire in the quarter-finals. 

Clann na nGael, however, are quietly going about their business – they topped Group 3 after victories against Shanballymore and Garnish, and then beat Deel Rovers in the last eight. Aidan McCarthy, back for a second stint as the Scorchers manager, is pleased with how the season is playing out, and especially the positive attitude from the group.

‘We got involved last November and the aim is to improve the lads individually and then collectively as a group,’ McCarthy explained.

‘We have big numbers every night at training, they want to improve and they want to go as far as possible. As well as results you can measure success on improvement, if the work-rate is there and if they are producing their best performances – and winning will follow off that.

‘The group has been superb, they want to improve and there’s a great work ethic there. We know it will be tough, Ballyphehane will probably be the favourites, they lost the final last year so it will be a huge ask for us. All we can do is give our best performance and let’s see where that takes us.’

McCarthy points to Clann na nGael’s response after a 2-19 to 0-8 loss to Adrigole in the Carbery-Beara 3A Football League at the start of May – their only defeat this season – because over a week later the Scorchers defeated Shanballymore by 3-16 to 0-5 in their county championship opener. That told McCarthy a lot about the character of this group. 

Wins against Garnish (1-7 to 1-4) and Deel Rovers (1-13 v 1-7) followed, with Donal O’Donovan (2-7), Paddy McCarthy (1-7), Eric Crowley (1-5), Daniel McCarthy (Leitra) (0-4) and Robbie McQueen (0-4) all chipping in with scores.

Ballyphehane will start as favourites on Friday, but needed five unanswered points to see off Muintir Bháire in the last round, so Clann na nGael know they have a chance if they perform.

‘It takes the pressure off in one context (that Ballyphehane are favourites), but it doesn’t take the pressure off what we are trying to achieve this year, and achieve every time we train and play – to hit our targets and perform. We are focused on the variables we are in control of and we know we need to give a top-level performance to be in contention to win the game,’ McCarthy said.

In the second semi-final on Friday night, Goleen take on St Catherine’s in Ahiohill at 7.30pm, so there is a chance of an all West Cork final if both Carbery clubs pass their next tests. Goleen have been going well so far, posting big scores in their wins against Glengarriff (4-25 to 0-9), Muintir Bháire (2-18 to 1-2) and Doneraile (2-14 to 0-6).

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