Mark Verling is an injury doubt for Mid Cork team
HAVING worked so hard to win the Cork county junior hurling title, Cloughduv will look to put a cherry on top on Sunday as they take on Ballinameela of Waterford in the Munster Club JHC in Mallow (1pm).
A win over Russell Rovers in October finally saw the mid-Cork side break through the junior barrier and return to intermediate for the first time since 2001.
In the interim, they had won nine Muskerry titles, including three of the last four before this year, losing county finals in 2009, 2010 and 2015.
Cloughduv had a Munster semi-final win away to Tipperary side Boherlahan-Dualla, with Tim Barry-Murphy, joint-manager of the team with Tomás Twomey, pleased at how his team had carried on from the county win.
‘We enjoyed the county win and we celebrated,’ he says, ‘but we were back training on the Thursday and we had a good chat.
‘We decided there and then whether we were going to have a cut and, to a man, they all wanted that. They showed that in training since the county and they showed it again against Boherlahan.
‘There was huge relief as we had been down with a while and come close but we just couldn’t get it over the line. To finally get there was brilliant and we’re all enjoying the journey.’
Having to travel to Tipp for such a big game presented a layer of difficulty, but Cloughduv were never in trouble, winning by 1-16 to 0-12.
‘It was tough going up there to play them in their own pitch,’ Barry-Murphy says.
‘They were a physically stronger team than us, which was a worry, but we coped well. There was a strong breeze down the field but we won the toss and played with it.
‘We had a good start and we built on that.
The workrate on the day was brilliant, we were asking for that from the lads all year and they showed that.’
It’s often the case that a team trying so hard to get out of junior will find that, once they do, it’s like a weight has been lifted. Carbery Rangers and Ilen Rovers soon became senior after emerging from junior while Mayfield, the JAHC winners two years ago after a lot of trying, went on to win the All-Ireland.
‘Historically, we’d always have been intermediate,’ Barry-Murphy says, ‘we were senior too for a few years.
‘With the development and the facilties that we have, we felt that we needed to get back up sooner rather than later but junior counties are hard worn. We had to beat St Ita’s and Russell Rovers to get there, two good East Cork clubs.
‘To still be playing hurling into December is brilliant, there’s a great atmosphere around the village.’
While they don’t know a lot about Ballinameela, Barry-Murphy has no doubt about the size of the task.
‘You look at Munster the last few years,’ he says, ‘Waterford teams have won three of the last five, with Ardmore, Ballysaggart and Modeligo, so whoever comes out of it will be strong.
‘We’ll be expecting a big challenge and our captain Mark Verling, who got injured in the county final, missed the last game, he twisted his knee. If he’s back, it would be a huge boost but it might be too soon.
‘Still though, we’ve had great support all year, we brought a big crowd to Tipperary and hopefully it’ll be the same in Mallow on Sunday. We played there in the county championship against Shanballymore so we’re very familiar with it and hopefully that should stand to us.’