St Finbarr’s manager Paul O’Keeffe wants their county semi-final against Castlehaven to be played next Wednesday, but fully accepts the game will not be moved from this Sunday.
O’Keeffe’s charges booked their semi-final place after a hard-fought quarter-final against Newcestown tonight and will return inside the whitewash in three days' time to face the men from West Cork.
The Barrs manager believes it goes against player welfare to make his charges play two games in five days, no more than it was unfair Newcestown had to line out twice in the space of four days.
O’Keeffe said St Finbarr’s sent a request to Cork County Board prior to last night’s game that the semi-final against Castlehaven be moved from this Sunday to next Wednesday, October 7.
“We were happy to go Wednesday-Wednesday. I don't see any reason why the county final couldn't be played on a Wednesday night given Covid restrictions allow for only 200 at a game. We asked the board to give us a week. We got no response,” said O’Keeffe.
“It is a tough ask for us, a four-day turnaround. Everyone else gets a week. I know they want to get the fixtures done with the inter-county coming. You got to factor player welfare in as well, though. It is not just about getting fixtures over and done with either.”
Castlehaven won’t have a sleepless night after watching a lethargic and ring-rusty Barr’s grind out a result in the final quarter.
Level 1-6 to 0-9 at the second-half water break, the Barrs made the decisive burst when Eoghan McGreevey, Steven Sherlock (free), and sub Eoghan Finn threw over three in relatively quick succession.
Daniel Twomey did pull one back for a tiring Newcestown, but the result drifted out of reach when the outstanding Cillian Myers Murray sniped a pair in and around the hour mark to secure his team a third semi-final appearance in four years.
Beyond the result and the five points from play Myers Murray threw over, O’Keeffe said there was nothing in the display for the winners to get excited about.
“Probably bad for my ticker,” he quipped.
“They played a hurling match at the weekend, a three-day turnaround was a massive ask for them. Coming down the last 15-minute stretch, maybe that was the difference between the two teams. It was fairly harsh on Newcestown to expect them to go Sunday-Wednesday, but look, we'll take the result and we're in a similar boat now.”
That the second-half was a notch livelier than the first wasn’t saying much given the opening half an hour of football was desperately poor fare.
Newcestown’s goal on 25 minutes - which shoved them into a 1-3 to 0-3 lead - served mainly to shake the Barrs from their lethargic ways.
The 2018 champions enjoyed the greater share of possession early on, but this was anything but reflected on the scoreboard. O’Keeffe’s troops had registered four wides by the 12th minute, three more added across the remainder of the half.
But more noticeable than their erratic shooting was the Barrs sheepishness from general play. Clearly showing was that they had not played competitively since September 6.
The sides were level on three occasions in the opening 21 minutes, Newcestown posting a reply each time the Barrs went ahead. Myers Murray and Sherlock (two frees) were the early contributors for the city men, Colm Dinneen (free), David Buckley, and Daniel Twomey (free) the Newcestown providers.
Séamus O’Sullivan supplied the game’s sole major after Cárthach Keane’s point effort dropped short and broke kindly to him. It was to be the only time they led, however, and they didn’t hold this advantage for very long as Denis O’Brien, Sherlock (0-2), and Myers Murray had the Barrs back in front - 0-7 to 1-3 - come the interval.
There was stalemate twice more in the second period before the Barrs eventually pulled clear.
S Sherlock (0-6, 0-3 frees); C Myers Murray (0-5); D O’Brien, E McGreevey, E Finn (0-1 each).
D Twomey (0-5, 0-5 frees); S O’Sullivan (1-0); D Buckley (0-2); C Dinneen (0-1, 0-1 free).
P O’Neill; S Ryan, J Burns, A O’Connor; C Lyons, O Murphy, C Scully; I Maguire, M Shields; D O’Brien, S Sherlock, C Walsh; C Myers Murray, B Hayes, E McGreevey.
E Finn for Hayes (HT); C Dennehy for Lyons (41 mins); C Keane for Shields (44); A Lyne for O’Brien (50); D Callanan for Sherlock (60).
C White; M McSweeney, C Twomey, J Kelleher; G O’Donovan, L Meade, C Dinneen; F Keane, S O’Donovan; S O’Sullivan, C Keane, D Buckley; J Meade, T Twomey, D Twomey.
E Kelly for J Meade (50); E Kelly for S O’Sullivan (55).