By John Murphy
WHAT we can say for certain is the ‘Flyer Nyhan’ Cup will have a new home on Sunday evening, barring a draw.
All roads leads to Castletownkenneigh on Sunday (4th), at 6pm.
While the standard has dropped considerably in recent years, many of the big guns being promoted and plying their trade at a higher level, nevertheless Kilbree and St Colum’s possess renowned hurling pedigrees.
Colum’s have been here before but the holy grail has eluded them to date. In 2013, Dohenys ousted them by 4-9 to 1-9, two goals inside the first seven minutes doing the damage.
Their resilience to come back has to be admired because, this Sunday practically all of the 2013 selection, albeit in different positions, will be in action. The continuing faith expressed in this bunch of players has justly been rewarded this year.
Granted, O’Donovan Rossa took them to a replay and they just edged out Ballinascarthy by a point margin, but the confident way they defeated St Oliver Plunkett’s in the semi-final – the Magpies having beaten St James’, champions Clonakilty and the fancied Mathúnas – marks them out as a force to be reckoned with.
An ace in the pack has been Cork footballer Alan O’Connor and while many may be surprised that he has not made the starting grid to date, he has been hugely inspirational coming off the bench and delivering the scoring goods. Seán O’Shea has been clocking up the scores, while Denis McSweeney and Dermot Cronin are two class forwards, but JP O’Sullivan will be a loss up front.
The defence looked solid against Plunkett’s with Séamus McHugh playing a starring role, while David O’Mahony is a superb centre-back and Ben Murphy, Eddie O’Sullivan, solid full-back Shane McSweeney and Seán Harrington concede little easily, giving good protection to Micheál Cronin.
Kilbree are delivering on the promise displayed at underage level.
They are young, enthusiastic and possess a huge panel this year. They have been running up impressive scores, accumulating a total of 6-53 while conceding just 1-33 against Kilbrittain, Plunkett’s and Dohenys.
Kevin O’Donovan, their most experienced player and scoring sorcerer, remains a doubt. He would be a huge loss but otherwise they are unlikely to deviate from that lineout that saw solid keeper Denis Dullea fronted by three in-form defenders, Davy O’Donovan, Danny Kelly and Liam O’Brien.
Brian O’Donovan was impeccable as pivot, while his flankers John Clancy and Kevin Keohane proved soundness personified.
Midfield was a key area, workhorse Ray Collins outstanding while captain Darragh Coakley was a class act. Don McCarthy proved a vital cog as attack leader, while Dylan Coffey, Oige Scannell, Damien O’Gorman and Martin O’Donovan formed a cohesive forward division. MD Keohane, Shane O’Donovan and Liam Daly all came off the bench to play important roles, with the jostling for places is keeping everyone on their toes.
Prediction: If conditions are as at present, a fast, fluid game of hurling should suit Kilbree’s lively 15, who have plenty firepower in attack.
On the other hand, if they are not favourable, then the experience of Colum’s, who have sampled this type of atmosphere before, allied to their strength and their steely determination and direct hurling, just may win the day.
It should be a cracker of a contest, little to choose between two committed and hungry sides, both striving to bring hurling honour and glory to the little village, anxious to win that coveted first title, a novel final pairing. Kilbree to shade it by a couple of points, but no doubt Teddy O’Mahony and my friends in Kealkil will be delighted to prove me wrong on Sunday evening.