Since 2009, the Munster Club JHC has been the preserve of Cork and Waterford sides and that duopoly will remain in force this year as Mayfield and Ballyduff Lower clash in tomorrow’s final in Mallow (1.30pm).
The Cork city side are reaping the benefits of breaking through the glass ceiling on Leeside, having drawn with Charleville in the 2011 county final only to then struggle to emerge from the bear pit of the Seandún championship.
Guiding their fortunes for the past two seasons is Séamus Lawton, and the Castlemartyr man admits there are benefits to being a non-native. “Being an outside coach has its advantages,” he says. “You had no preconceived ideas but I was lucky I was going into a good panel anyway.
“There was the bones of a good panel there from 2011. Things had probably dipped a bit but the players had the appetite.”
That appetite was no doubt sharpened by the fact that Mayfield reached the intermediate football final of 2015, again losing after a replay, Fermoy the successful side on this occasion.
While defeat wasn’t enjoyable, the experience has at least been harnessed on the current run.
“That was definitely an advantage,” Lawton says, “I think nine of the panel that won the county this year had reached the intermediate football final last year.
“All of these things add up, the one-percenters as I call them. The fact that we lost last year as well, we learned a lot.”
In the county final, Mayfield beat Sarsfields, whose ‘second team’ status meant they were prevented from progressing to Munster fare even if they won.
Lawton insists the provincial championship wasn’t considered until they properly got there. “We were major underdogs against Sars so that was the last thing on our minds,” he says. “Once we did, straightaway you could see that there was an appetite for it. You don’t know with teams, some won’t have the mind for it but these lads were keen to go for it, so that was good.”
With Limerick’s St Patrick’s beaten by 44 points and Bodyke of Clare seen off on a 20-point margin, they have been in good form but the Waterford champions will pose a tougher challenge. Given his East Cork origins, Lawton is fully aware of the task facing Mayfield and has a lot of reconnaissance to hand.
“We saw them in the semi-final against Ballybacon-Grange,” he says.
“They have a long tradition, they were senior up until a few years ago, they lost a lot of players but some are back with them now. John O’Leary the full-back was with Mount Sion, Jack Kennedy at centre-forward played with Waterford and has been doing a lot of scoring.
“They’re a very well-balanced team, they’re all good hurlers and the tradition of Waterford at this level is very strong in recent years with Modeligo and Ballysaggart winning and Fenor getting to the final last year.”
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