Na Piarsaigh bid to end West Cork stranglehold

CITY club Na Piarsaigh are the only side capable of breaking west Cork’s stranglehold on the Permanent TSB Cork county senior football championship.

With Castlehaven already through to their fifth final and Clonakilty qualified for the second semi-final, Na Piarsaigh must beat O'Donovan Rossa's, Skibbereen in tonight's quarter-final at Clonakilty to prevent a western monopoly.

And according to O'Donovan Rossa's manager Peadar Healy "we are hoping to keep the west Cork band-wagon rolling".

However, the Glengarriff-based garda was the first to acknowledge that his charges face a most formidable task having been beaten by Na Piarsaigh in the first round but later qualifying for tonight's showdown through the back door.

"This is unquestionably the biggest game of the year for us. I was most impressed by Na Piarsaigh in the first round and I don't think they have been given enough credit for the manner in which they toppled All-Ireland club champions Nemo Rangers.

"Na Piarsaigh are a very well organised team. They are very fit and very composed even in the tightest of situations. They are a handful for any team," said the Skibb boss.

Despite reporting a clean bill of health, Healy expressed concern however at the disruption of his side's preparations: "We had a number of the lads involved in the U-21 championship and the junior hurling championship and preparations were hampered. But I am still hoping that they will play to their full potential."

O'Donovan Rossa's won their first and only championship under the inspired captaincy of the late Mick McCarthy in 1992 with a scintillating final display against Nemo Rangers.

After winning the All-Ireland club championship in 1993, the Skibb club were back to contest the county final again in 1994 but lost out to next-door neighbours Castlehaven after a replay.

It has been something of a lean period since, with just one semi final appearance three years ago when they fell to their home division of Carbery.

After losing to Na Piarsaigh in the first round this year, O'Donovan Rossa's bounced back to defeat Avondhu and Aghada.

And with a semi-final place beckoning again, they are sure to put it up to Na Piarsaigh.

Na Piarsaigh manager Liam Martin said that meeting O'Donovan Rossa's for the second time was not ideal.

"Obviously we would have preferred to avoid them," he said.

But he added: "The fact that we have been through it twice in the last two years should help us."

Martin said: "The one thing we have been stressing to the players is that their performance in the quarter-final against Dohenys will not do against Skibbereen." The city side will be without Mark Prendergast, who is out of the country on holidays, and Robert Healy is expected to be named as his replacement with Stephen O'Sullivan moving to centre-back.

After winning the junior and intermediate titles in successive years during the mid-60s, Na Piarsaigh won the Kelleher Shield in their first season in senior ranks. But the only time they managed to qualify for a senior championship semi-final was back in 1986, when they lost to eventual winners Imokilly.

However, following three notable wins over O'Donovan Rossa's, Nemo Rangers and the Dohenys hopes are high of progression to a second semi-final in the club's history.

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