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Will Garnish defend Beara title?

August 11th, 2017 2:00 PM

By Kieran McCarthy

Out in front: Urhan's Phillip O'Shea gets this pass away despite the close attention of Garnish's Oisin Millen during the 2016 Beara JAFC final in Castletownbere. Garnish won 0-9 to 0-7.

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Garnish and Urhan clash in divisional final on Saturday


GARNISH are putting their faith in youth as they bid to win back-to-back Beara junior A football titles.

The defending champions put their divisional crown on the line when the take on Urhan in the Beara final – a repeat of last year's decider – in Castletownbere this Saturday, August 12th, at 2pm.

Similar to last year, the Beara JAFC consists of only two teams, Garnish and Urhan, which means it's a straight final for the Cormac O'Sullivan Cup (incidentally, the cup is named after a Garnish man).

What this also means is that without even kicking a ball both Garnish and Urhan are automatically through to the county section of the new Cork JAFC, so regardless of Saturday's result they'll both have at least one extra championship game to look forward to.

‘There are only six clubs in the Beara division, two of them are intermediate (Castletownbere and Adrigole), two play junior B (Glengarriff and Bere Island) and two play junior A, it's just the way it is,' explained Garnish manager Finbarr Harrington, who is also secretary of the Beara board.

‘We have a very young side this year, it's probably one of the youngest teams that we have ever fielded. 

‘We have a bunch of young players coming through and for some it will be their first championship game at adult level on Saturday so it will be a big day for them.'

Garnish won last year's final by nine points to seven to dethrone Urhan with Finbarr Sheehan kicking three points for the winners – but he's struggling with a knee injury and is a doubt for this Saturday.

Garnish have been tipping away in Division 2 of the Cork JAFL, winning their first two matches and losing four since (including a walkover against Knocknagree), and Harrington admits it's been tough going at times.

‘Our biggest problem is the lack of numbers. We are a very small club when it comes to players and at the moment we have about 20 players. We have played in the county league and done okay. What we do is organise the games three weeks in advance so we know we have enough to field. In most of our games this year we had 15 players, maybe 16,' explained Harrington, who took over as manager from Niall Cronin, the man that was in charge last year.

The man holding the reins with Urhan, Johnny O'Neill, admits it's been a challenging season also, with the team struggling in Division 1 of the Carbery-Beara JAFL, losing all four games they've played and averaging a score of only seven points per game.

They'll be the underdogs on Saturday.

‘We have a young team coming through, we're rebuilding and that process takes time,' O'Neill explained.

‘Because it's a rebuilding process and we have a tight squad of players, the league campaign hasn't been great.'

While both teams have their difficulties, the occasion of a Beara JAFC final should bring out the best of them and recent championship matches between the two have been close as they've shared the divisional title.

Urhan beat Garnish to win the title in 2011 and '12, Garnish won it in '13 and '14, beating Urhan and Glengarriff, Urhan regained the title in '15 before Garnish grabbed it back last year.

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