TWO county finals and two semi-finals - that’s the Examiner Sport live-stream menu this weekend as the Cork GAA Championships reach boiling point.
Few could gainsay the fact the revamped Championship format in Cork has been a runaway success – and if the ultimate aim of the system change was to bring the cream to the top, fewer again would quibble with the finalists in Hurling’s Senior A and Premier IHC grades – Charleville and Fr O’Neills in the former and Castlelyons v Blarney in the latter.
And if St Finbarr’s overcome Newcestown in their delayed Premier SFC quarter-final on Wednesday night, we’re left with the top four-ranked teams in the county chasing football’s top prize – the Andy Scannell Cup – namely champions Nemo Rangers, Castlehaven, Duhallow and the Barr’s (though Newcestown might have a thing or two to say about that!).
It will all unfold live and exclusively on thewebsite, starting with Saturday night’s Co-Op Superstores-sponsored Premier IHC decider from Pairc Ui Chaoimh between Castlelyons and Blarney. When the sides met in the group phase in August in Mourneabbey in front of the Examiner Sport cameras, Castlelyons were impressive winners, 1-20 to 1-14 – but there’s an argument to suggest Blarney is the form horse in the grade in recent weeks – and they will be boosted by the strong UCC form of Shane Barrett and Padraig Power, who scored 3-2 in the semi-final win over Carrigaline.
Said Blarney coach Brian Hurley: “To get a second go [against Castlelyons] is good for the lads, see can we learn from what was a tough and frustrating day at the office for a lot of them, and see can we correct one or two things.” Oisin Langan will provide commentary, Mark Landers is on analysis, with pre-final interviews from both camps starting at 6.45 pm.
There’s a noon start on a busy Sunday, with the Co-Op Superstores Senior A hurling decider from Pairc ui Chaoimh between Charleville and Fr O’Neills throwing in at 12.30pm. It’s the first part of a triple bill of live Cork Championship action on our website, with the two Premier SFC semi-finals following at 2pm and 7pm from Pairc ui Rinn.
Just like the Premier IHC final, the bookies can’t separate Charleville and Fr O’Neills. As John Coleman wrote of the semi-finals: “It’s a mouth-watering final where the wide-open spaces of Páirc Uí Chaoimh will suit the youthful vigour of both teams.”
Charleville were properly impressive in defeating Ronan Curran’s Kanturk in the semis, while Fr O’Neills, with Declan Dalton banging in two goals, had too much for Newcestown. Oisin Langan and Ger Cunningham will call the final from HQ.
Straight after that final, our cameras will switch to Pairc Ui Rinn for the first of the Premier SFC semi-finals, where Des Curran and Conor Counihan will be watching champions Nemo Rangers face Duhallow at 2pm in a repeat of last year's final. The division were put to the pin of their collar to see off Valley Rovers in the quarter-finals and have the disadvantage of Kanturk's involvement in the Premier IFC semi final 28 hours earlier, but if they click, Nemo are in for a searching examination.
And later Sunday, Patrick Mulcahy will be joined by another former Cork manager, Brian Cuthbert for the meeting of Castlehaven and either St Finbarr’s or Newcestown. The throw in under the Pairc Ui Rinn floodlights is at 7pm.
Quite the weekend of Cork GAA Championship coverage on