COVID-19 may be the talk of the GAA season but the achievements of Randal Óg in reaching both junior B finals, football and hurling, cannot be ignored here in Carbery.
One of only two genuine junior B clubs in the division, Goleen are the other in football, Randals, from a small corner of Dunmanway parish, have a proud record in grade B hurling competitions, winning nine South West titles and contesting four county finals, winning two, in 1992 and 2000. They last held the South West title in 2017.
In this year’s championship they had a great win over a fancied O’Donovan Rossa side in Round 1. Trailing by a point at half time, Randals took the lead with two goals from Cathal Duggan to register a 2-10 to 0-13 win. In the semi-final, they took on Barryroe’s second squad and an Eoin O’Donovan goal gave them a half time lead of 1-12 to 1-4. Barryroe cut the lead to three in the second half but a strong finish and a goal from Kevin Dullea gave Randals a comprehensive 2-20 to 2-10 win.
Shane Patterson captains the Randals from full back and they will be depending on Sam Kingston, Séadhna Crowley, Donncha Collins, Ger Lynch and Patrick Crowley to spearhead a successful challenge.
Ace scorer Eamonn Lyons captains the Kilbrittain side that is appearing in its second successive final, not having won the B title since distant 1967 as they were campaigning mostly in A since then.
‘We re-graded from Junior A in 2019 because we had a lot of young lads coming through to the team and they were shipping a few hidings at junior A,’ Lyons told The Southern Star.
‘It was decided to give them experience at a lower grade. We actually reached the final at the first attempt last season and were very disappointed to lose to Bantry. This year we have a young side, I’d be the oldest, with Cian O’Leary, at 27. We have a good mix on the side.’
The team beat Gabriel Rangers by 1-17 to 0-10 in the first round, having led by 0-9 to 0-4 at the interval. Lyons, himself, scored seven points, with Aaron Fehily getting the goal.
‘We had an easier than expected win over Gabriel Rangers in the first round but they hadn’t too much hurling played,’ Lyons said.
‘Unfortunately, we lost one of our best young players to the intermediate team after that, Conor Hogan, and also Conor Moloney. Then we played O’Donovan Rossa in the semi-final and it took us all our time to win by two points (1-12 to 1-10.) Unfortunately, we were unable to play any games, bar one challenge against Courceys, because of football commitments and intermediate hurling. But Jamie Wall has taken charge of training and he is getting the very best from the players. Training is always entertaining and interesting with him.’
What about Saturday’s final in Ahiohill against Randal Óg?
‘We’re a little nervous about playing in Ahiohill because the footballers lost there last weekend,’ said Lyons.
‘We played Randals in the league earlier in the year and beat them by six points but we have lost a few players since. We have a very solid defence and will expect big games from players like James O’Donovan, Sam Dewey, Seamus O’Sullivan, Darragh Considine and Cian O’Leary. Our goal from the start when we re-graded was to win the title as soon as possible and to get back up junior A. We missed out last season but will give it our best against Randals. They will be extra hungry as they are going for the double and will be hard to stop. Hopefully, we’ll be back playing junior A in 2021.’