This story originally appeared in our 16-page county final preview in this week's Southern Star sports section which is available in shops across West Cork now or online via our digital edition ➡ http://bit.ly/2Z9T9Z1
GER McCARTHY got the thoughts of three club managers who faced either Clonakilty or St Finbarr’s during this year’s county football championship.
James McCarthy – Castlehaven
(Castlehaven lost to St Finbarr’s in the Cork PSFC county semi-finals after extra-time and a penalty shootout)
‘I think Clonakilty’s style of play might help them to condense St Finbarr’s power running but you would have to say that the Barr’s would be favourites. Clon will be happy to hear that but I wouldn’t rule them out of winning this game either.
‘I went to see Clonakilty play in the first round of this year’s county championship because I knew that this team was building. Clon might say that they are overachieving but I don’t think so. Any team that reaches a county final, they are there to win it.
‘The Barr’s will be hungry, especially after losing last year’s semi-final. They have gone from a semi-final last year to qualifying for this year’s county final. Now they want to win one. I think this is going to be a great spectacle. So, I believe the Barr’s have to be favourites but the way Clon can play on the counter-attack, might make this a closer game than people think.’
Podsie O’Mahony – Ballincollig
(Ballincollig lost 2-15 to 1-17 to the Barr’s and 1-10 to 0-12 to Clonakilty in Group C of this year’s Cork PSFC)
‘From the outset of this year’s county championship, I would have said the Barr’s were the team to beat. Look at all the talent they have. They have one of the standout, marquee forwards in the county in Steven Sherlock, at club level anyway. Cillian Myers Murray is going to be a huge player for them. They have added Conor McCrickard and have the likes of Eoghan McGreevey, Ian Maguire and Brian Hayes as well.
‘They backed themselves against the Haven in the county semi-final and went for it. That’s the Barr’s gameplan, they back themselves every time. When they need to switch to a more defensive setup, they can do that as well. They were 13 points up against us and like most teams in that situation they sat back. We (Ballincollig) came back at them and once momentum shifts, it is very hard to get it back.
‘As for Clonakilty, they caught Duhallow cold but the county board did them (Duhallow) no favours by playing junior championship games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. When Clonakilty played a more attacking game in the last 15 minutes, they beat them comfortably. Clon brought that approach to the first 40 minutes of their semi-final with Douglas.
‘I admire Clonakilty because they have improved with each game by playing a bit more on the counter-attack. I have been impressed with Clon, especially their last two games, and their fitness level, their body language, everything is a lot more positive about them.
‘I do think this county final will go to the wire. Tradition and history have shown that Clonakilty can take advantage when they get there (final). Will they? I don’t know because they haven’t been able to beat this Barr’s team the last three years. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Clonakilty won because they are a different animal over the last few games.’
Jason Whooley – Ilen Rovers
(Ilen Rovers lost 0-17 to 1-11 to the Barr’s and 3-10 to 0-11 to Clonakilty in Group C of this year’s Cork PSFC)
‘I think Clonakilty are a talented team and have great depth to their panel. They played a very defensive system against us which we found hard to counteract. In more recent games, Clon have had to push up a bit more and attack more but that’s no surprise considering they have some great attacking players. I think that is going to be critical in the county final because the Barr’s are a really strong, attacking team.
‘There has been a lot of talk about Steven Sherlock, and rightly so, but this Barr’s team is far from a one-man show. Cillian Myers Murray, Colm Barrett, Brian Hayes, these are seriously talented footballers. Barrett and Hayes were Cork U20s, McCrickard a Down senior who got four points from play against us (Ilen). Then in the middle of the field, they have a serious pairing with the likes of Ian Maguire and Eoin Comyns or Enda Dennehy. They also have depth with the likes of Michael Shields coming off the bench. The Barr’s are very strong when they attack and like the idea of outscoring the opposition.
‘Clonakilty are a well balanced line-up. They have what I would consider a lot of underestimated players. Sean White, Thomas Clancy and Liam O’Donovan are inter-county footballers with Cork. Clon have been just below the radar a small bit this year. What I like about Clonakilty is that they have won three championship games by a single point this year.
‘Clon were heavy underdogs against the Duhallow and Douglas and will be again when they face St Finbarr’s. There is no great pressure on them. I fancy Clon but I think they are going to have to get a couple of goals to win the county final. On paper, it is the Barr’s but I have just this feeling that Clonakilty have come through this championship winning tight games. If this county final is a tight game, I think Clon will win it.’