NEWCESTOWN’S footballers are ready to shine on centre stage at Páirc Uí Chaoimh this Sunday evening.
Very few of the Newcestown squad have played at Cork GAA HQ before, but their inter-county hurling star Luke Meade has and he believes they’ll feel right at home.
‘It’s a class pitch, a lovely stadium and it’s definitely one to look forward to; where else would you want to play?’ Meade says.
‘I’m not sure how many of our lads would have played there. It’s probably just myself and maybe one or two of the younger lads as minors, so it will be the first time playing at Páirc Uí Chaoimh for most of the lads – but they’ll love it.’
Sunday’s Premier SFC quarter-final against St Finbarr's (4pm throw-in) is also an opportunity for Newcestown to qualify for back-to-back county football semi-finals.
In 2019 Newcestown were the last Carbery club standing in the county senior championship and this season they knocked out Carbery Rangers, as they emerged from the West Cork group of death along with table-toppers Castlehaven. Newcestown’s football stock has risen considerably in the past few seasons – and Meade, better known for his hurling exploits, is loving the adventure with the bigger ball.
‘I’m really enjoying it. All the way up I would have played hurling and football, and it’s the same for most of the lads in the club,’ explains Meade, who has been very influential at centre back for the footballers.
‘Three or four years ago maybe we were hanging on to win one football game but we are more organised now and there is momentum behind the football side of things. Once we started winning a few games last year, it got the ball rolling.
‘People know by now that the O’Driscolls (Colm and Brian from Tadhg MacCarthaigh) have had a big impact since they came in as coaches and everyone has really bought into this. As as club we’ve always wanted to go as well in football as much as we do in hurling, and that hard work is showing now.
‘When you’re playing with Cork you don’t get too much time to be back with the club but I’ve been totally with the club for the last few months and it’s been great to have had more time with football.’
The hard work is paying off with Newcestown in a Premier SFC quarter-final against the Barrs on Sunday, and Meade knows the daunting challenge that awaits them at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
‘They’ve been one of the top clubs in Cork over the last few years. Along with Nemo, they’ve been the standard bearers, so we know how hard it will be,’ Meade says.
‘They will be fierce tough but we’re confident in ourselves, we played well for most of the game against Ross and we know there’s more in us too. The quality of the opposition is going up now so we need to up it too, but we have that room to improve.’
The club is also on a roll right now, with the footballers and hurlers both in the knock-out stages. The hurlers beat Bride Rovers last weekend to qualify for the county Senior A semi-finals, and the footballers want to make it to the last four this Sunday. If they shine in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, they’ve a good chance of stunning the Barrs.