BY DENIS HURLEY
HISTORY isn’t on Gabriel Rangers’ side ahead of Sunday’s Munster Club JFC final against Glenbeigh-Glencar in Mallow (3.15pm).
Since the inception of junior club championship, 15 championships have seen victory go to Kerry clubs on 13 occasions, with just Carbery Rangers (2003) and Canovee (2007) breaking that stranglehold. In fact – chillingly – Gabriels are the first Cork club since Canovee to even reach the final.
To be fair to the Schull/Ballydehob club, they are certainly there on merit. Whereas their 2010 Carbery JAFC win represented a destination, this time the divisional title was only part of the journey and they haven’t been overawed by what was been put before them in Munster.
Playing Meelick of Clare and Tipperary’s Clonoulty-Rossmore in Clonakilty has been a help, but that’s not to say that Mallow will prove to be a detrimental factor as they have been victorious on fields all over Cork this year.
The Gabriels attacking prowess is of a level to make even premier intermediate sides envious. Stop Mark Cronin, and Eddie Goggin will nab a goal; on the off-chance he doesn’t, Chris Moynihan or Seán Kelleher can do plenty of damage.
Tallies of 2-11 and 1-13 in their two Munster championship games so far so that the changing of the seasons hasn’t limited their attacking capabilities and at midfield Stephen O’Mahony and Donal O’Sullivan should ensure a plentiful supply of ball.
Pat Nolan – what a story it would be if he could win a Munster medal at 45 years of age – Richard Moynihan and Cathal Newman are just some of the constituent parts of a defence which has frustrated many an attack this year, but there’s no doubting that Sunday will represent their stiffest test so far.
Darran O’Sullivan is obviously the stand-out name for Glenbeigh-Glencar, who can also call on the talents of Pa Kilkenny, Fergal Griffin and Gavin O’Grady. While they lost a Mid-Kerry championship semi-final last week against Beaufourt, the game is sure to have proven beneficial for the team managed by Aidan O’Shea, son of Kerry great Jack.
On the Gabriels side, the meticulous preparation of boss Mike O’Brien has been a valuable asset – Pat Nolan called it a ‘winning Castlehaven mentality’ before the semi-final against Clonoulty-Rossmore – and it’s likely to be evident again on Sunday.
Will it be enough? It’s tough to say, but it wouldn’t surprise us if Cork’s drought was ended.