Denis Hurley assesses the provincial prospects of Carbery Rangers as they prepare to face Limerick champions Monaleen on Sunday
IT’S always hard to know just how a maiden county championship victory will affect a club going forward into provincial fare.
Having strived for so long to actually achieve glory, a team could find itself with nothing left in the tank when a bigger test comes along. Or, it could be the case that, having come so far, another few games are no real problem for a side riding high on a wave of momentum.
For Carbery Rangers, there is the consolation that three Cork clubs have followed inaugural county titles with Munster championship wins. That two of those three are the usual standard-bearers – Castlehaven and Nemo Rangers – and the other (O’Donovan Rossa) went on to win the All-Ireland, shows that it’s no walk in the park either.
Beyond that trio, St Finbarr’s, UCC and St Nicholas are the only other Cork clubs to taste Munster glory. The Nick’s win was in 1967, a year before Beara won it. The rule was later changed to that divisional sides couldn’t enter and so the last Barrs win, in 1986, actually came after they had lost to Imokilly in the county final. The last Cork winners apart from Nemo were UCC – whose admittance must seem unfair to divisions – in 1999.
All of which illustrates how difficult it might be for Carbery Rangers to go all the way, but the final isn’t until the end of November. Right now, the task at hand is Limerick champions Monaleen in the Gaelic Grounds at 3pm on Sunday.
They enjoyed a six-point win over traditional Shannonside kingpins Dromcollogher-Broadford last Sunday week, triumphing by 2-14 to 1-11 for their third title in seven years, having been successful in 2010 and ’11 too (UCC beat them in Cloughduv in the latter year).
As well as their senior football exploits, Monaleen are also flying high in hurling, having claimed the Limerick Premier IHC title and they beat Clare’s St Joseph’s in the Munster first round last weekend.
There aren’t too many dual players, so fatigue is unlikely to be a massive issue, but one of those to play both, Limerick star Ger Collins, is the jewel in the attack. He scored five points from play in the county final while man of the match Barry Fitzpatrick contributed three from midfield. Along with Ross McGrath, he will pose a threat in that sector.
As Ross showed in the county final, though, they are capable of adapting to nullify opponents’ strengths. With a diligent backroom team likely to have studied Monaleen carefully, they won’t lack for preparation.
Once the occasion doesn’t get to them, there’s no reason they can’t progress.