Boys in blue tipped to retain the prized Flyer Nyhan Cup
BY JOHN MURPHY
WHAT a feast of hurling awaits all Carbery followers as they flock in their droves to Enniskeane on Sunday for the biggest game on the Carbery junior hurling calendar – the junior A final for the famed Flyer Nyhan Cup.
This is a heavyweight clash and a repeat of last season’s final. Reigning champions Kilbree put their title on the line against a Ballinascarthy team that can still win a unique hurling and football double.
Three of Kilbree’s four games in this campaign have been against Dohenys. They beat them well in Round 1 (2-23 to 0-9), were fortunate to earn a replay in the quarter-final (1-12 to 2-9) before winning the replay by five points, 1-11 to 0-9. Kilbree easily over Newcestown by 3-19 to 3-10 in the semi-final. They have totted up an astounding 7-65, but slightly worrying defensively is having conceded 5-37.
Manning the gap will be goalkeeper Denis Dullea, fronted most likely by the trio of Brian Deasy, Liam O’Brien and Brian Keohane. They are defensively well served in the half-back division, Brian O’Donovan as pivot and his flankers, John Clancy and Kevin Keohane, will ensure nothing passes easily.
Kilbree possess an ideal mix around the middle third, the classy Dylan Coffey augmented by the tireless Ray Collins. Up in attack the forwards have been turning on the style, led by captain Don McCarthy from his centre-forward.
In the inside line Limerick native Sean Reale has been in sensational form, scoring goals for fun and will be a headache for the Ballinascarthy defence. Darragh Coakley shot some delightful points in the semi-final and is bang on form while corner forward Martin O’Donovan is another to watch. Jonathan Deasy and Ogie Scannell also know where the posts are.
In the red corner are Ballinascarthy, who are in the decider for a third successive year. They will be anxious to consign the defeats of 2017 against Clonakilty and last year against Kilbree to the history books. Bal’s last JAHC title was won in 2000 and they will be anxious to bridge a 19-year gap.
Their progression to this final has been one of improved form since the first-round defeat, 2-17 to 2-14, of Newcestown’s second string. It was onwards and upwards against a fancied St James’ in the quarter-final (2-16 to 0-13) and this past weekend arch rivals Clonakilty bit the dust (2-15 to 0-12) at the penultimate stage. They too have kept the scoreboard operator busy totting up 6-48 while conceding 3-39 in their three outings to date.
Darragh Hennessy was in sensational form between the posts against Clonakilty and hopes to replicate that performance in Sunday’s clash. The defence rotated the last day out, but two key figures will be former Cork minor Ciarán Nyhan and the hard-working Chris Ryan, if overcoming injury, could figure at full back. There are injury worries too concerning defender Paraic Cullinane at corner back, but Bal are well served in that department – JC O’Flynn, David Walsh, Luke Murray, Eoin O’Brien, Ciarán O’Neill and Daniel Nyhan some of a group hoping to come under starter’s orders.
In midfield, free-taker supreme Jeremy Ryan will be partnered by Ricky O’Flynn, the latter’s horrible cruciate injury now a distant memory and he’s hurling wholeheartedly as always. The attack has been somewhat of an Achilles Heel in the past but new options have emerged up front. Former Cork minor footballer Sean Ryan will line out on the mark, while captain Cillian Cullinane, the Carbery senior footballer, will be on one of the flanks.
That tasty hurler Ben Murray, a brother of Luke, is going well, while against Clonakilty, corner forward Brian O’Donovan was in irrepressible form as he scored a fantastic 1-5 from play. Daniel O’Brien, David McCarthy, Mikie Kirby, Seamus McCarthy are among some battling it out for the remaining slots on the team.
Verdict: Kilbree are favourites to win back-to-back titles – but that’s a rare and difficult feat. If Kilbree get a grip around the middle of the park with their strong midfield pairing of Dylan Coffey and Ray Collins, then the quality ball going in to their inside lines will have serious repercussions for the Ballinascarthy defence, as Don McCarthy and Sean Reale possess the ability to run up serious scores.
However, if Jeremy Ryan and Ricky O’Flynn earn parity and the Bal half backs deny Kilbree any latitude, then the Flyer Nyhan Cup could well be on its way to the birthplace of Henry Ford for the first time in 19 years.
It could go down to the wire and do not rule out a replay, but on the assumption that Kilbree are currently bang on form and possess the greater scoring threat they should prevail by three or four points.