'It's like the best of the days in the ‘80s' - Barrs buzzing with double hopes

Paul O’Keeffe saw his side come out on the right side of another battle with old rivals Castlehaven. 
'It's like the best of the days in the ‘80s' - Barrs buzzing with double hopes

DOUBLE VISION: St Finbarr's Paul O'Keeffe celebrates the win over Castlehaven.

You can say it now. The Barrs are going for the double.

First to step into the ring are the senior hurlers against Blackrock in a fortnight, and in another mouth-watering all Cork city final, the senior footballers meet their good neighbours Nemo Rangers two weeks later.

“It gets easier and easier,” joked football manager Paul O’Keeffe. “We haven’t beaten Nemo that often in finals. Their record is frightening. It is their centenary year, so they probably have that bit of added pressure.

“We haven’t had a bad record in the last couple of years either. It will be a good game of football and will be an advertisement for Cork football. It will be pretty similar to today. And I would be more than happy if we had the same result.” 

The reigning Cork and Munster champions held the upper hand against their great rivals Castlehaven, but could only make it count in the fourth quarter.

“A massive battle against the Haven, which is what we were expecting. Not good for the blood pressure, but I would take it all day long. It was a good game of football. Neither team set up defensively. Both teams went out hammer and tongs. We just got on the right side of it. Even with the five minutes of extra-time to go, you are still thinking anything could happen in this fixture.

“It was exhibition stuff from both sides for the whole of the first-half. It was end-to-end. They got the goal. I was really happy we responded with three points. We butchered three or four goal chances in the first-half as well. It had echoes of two years ago when they beat us. At half-time (1-8 to 0-11), I was hoping that wouldn’t come back to haunt us.

“But we got to grips with it. Steven’s (Sherlock) goal, that turned the tide in a big way for us. But still we couldn’t really put them away in terms of getting those extra scores to go four or five points up. The second goal (Brian Hayes) was the icing on the cake.

“Coming into this week, I felt our forwards were never in better form, never seen them go as well in training. Thankfully they just translated that today.

“There is a massive panel there. We have huge strength in depth. In games like this, you are going to use 20 players. It is good when you look behind you, and see there are serious options to come on.

“It is almost unbelievable to say you wouldn’t start Ben O’Connor given his physique and his talent. It was just competition for places, to be honest. But look, he is a nice fella to bring off the bench.” 

The crossover of players - circa five dual starters - will make for continued co-operation.

“It is going to be fairly straightforward enough. The hurlers are out in two weeks time, they will have a clean run for two weeks. We will tip away with the remaining footballers. We will resume after the hurling final, hopefully the boys will be coming back on a high.

“We are not really focusing on a double, we are focusing on the job we have to do in a month’s time.

“The buzz is phenomenal. You see all the kids around here. It's like the best of the days in the ‘80s when we were contesting doubles on a frequent basis. It gives the kids a belief. It is something I grew up with. It is fantastic to see the club back in that position again. It is a nice place to be. Today is a great day for the Barrs.”

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