By John Murphy
ALL roads lead to Ballinacarriga on Sunday next as last year’s beaten finalists Ballinascarthy clash camáns with Kilbree to decide the destination of the silver symbol of JAHC supremacy in Carbery for 2018 the famed Flyer Nyhan Cup. It promises to be one of the most open and exciting championship finals for many years given that the favourites and 2017 champions Clonakilty have been dethroned by Kilbree, a weakened Brewery Town side bowing out at the quarter-final stage, thus levelling the playing field considerably; consequently both teams will fancy their chances.
While hurling purists will no doubt argue with some justification that the standard has dropped in the Carbery division in recent years, nevertheless local derbies always have a charisma all of their own and this battle royal should be no exception drawing a huge crowd. Ballinascarthy are still smarting from the chastening hurling lesson handed out by their next-door neighbours Clonakilty in last year’s final showdown and will be anxious to prove their critics wrong and bridge an eighteen-year old gap that stretches way back to 2000 the last time they mounted the winning podium, defeating Barryroe after a replay at Bandon. The Reds did make the final the following year in 2001, but had to bow the knee to a classy Diarmuid O’Mathúna team who defeated them after a replay.
They went into last year’s decider on a high, but failed to produce the form shown in the leadup, allowed Clonakilty build up a considerable advantage and while they rallied well were always chasing the game. While they won all comfortably at the end, this inconsistency has reared its head in their three championship games again this year against Newcestown, Dohenys and St. Oliver Plunkett’s. When on song and firing on all cylinders they are a joy to watch leaving teams trailing in their wake with the quality of their hurling. Unfortunately, they have failed to bring that level of performance for the full hour in their games.
They will be hoping to have found the right formula to eliminate that bugbear before this showdown, otherwise against a team of the calibre of Kilbree, they will be in big trouble. They are likely to deviate to the minimum from what has been a settled looking lineout in their games to date. One noticeable absentee will be midfield general Ricky O ’Flynn who picked up a serious cruciate injury in ironically enough, a football championship game. He will be a huge loss from the middle third.
Shot-stopper Darragh Hennessy has made the job between the posts his own recently and will be fronted by the reliable Chris Ryan with JC O ‘Flynn and David O’Brien bringing added stability to the fullback line. Last year’s Cork Under17 star Ciarán Nyhan has an All-Ireland medal in his back pocket and is soundness personified as pivot flanked by two solid hurlers in Colin Crowley and Luke Murray.
Jeremy Ryan has been outstanding from frees and general play and he will anchor midfield probably partnered by up and coming Daniel O’Brien. David Walsh or Seamus McCarthy if the latter’s injury has cleared up will be in contention to lead an attack that has been raising white flags on a regular basis. Dual star Cillian Cullinane should be on one flank while the speedy Daniel Nyhan who has been amongst the goals will slot in on the other. Ben Murray should show his versality in the right corner, while the hard-grafting Mikey Kirby will be on the mark with former Cork minor footballer Seán Ryan completing a potent attack. Brian O’Donovan and David McCarthy have been introduced to good effect also and will be hoping with others to get an opportunity to show their paces at some stage.
The Ballinascarthy panel includes several sets of brothers, Daniel, Cathal and Ciarán Nyhan, Luke and Ben Murray, David and Eoin O’Brien (out with an injury), Barry and David Walsh, Joe and Jeremy Ryan, Seamus and Cormac McCarthy, Seán and Cian Ryan, Kevin and Ciarán O’Neill, Ricky, JC and Ryan O ’Flynn. Ballinascarthy manager is Brendan O’Driscoll while selectorial guidance comes from Kieran Dineen, Fergal Keohane and Johnny Ryan.