JAHC final preview – St Catherines v Sarsfields

Guiding the fortunes of the St. Catherines junior A hurlers are, l-r: Pat Clancy (manager) along with selectors: Shane O'Connell, Sean O'Farrell and Richard Hegarty - missing from photograph is Niall McCarthy. (John Ahern)

St Catherines and Sarsfields clash in the divisional A grade junior hurling championship final Saturday next, August 27th at Youghal, timed for 3pm.

In a huge weekend for East Cork hurling the showpiece event within divisional circles is undoubtedly the clash of St Catherines and Sarsfields in the blue riband competition which since its inception in 1926 is famously and fondly referred to as the ‘East Cork final’.

This year’s contestants St Catherines and Sarsfields given their respective performances to date are indeed worthy finalists. As mentioned in last week’s editorial Sars second string selection met and defeated Carraig na bhFear in both the preliminary round and quarter-final, prior to forging a comprehensive triumph over Cobh in last Saturday’s semi-final.  Opponents St Catherines defeated last year’s beaten finalists St Itas in the first round prior to annihilating both Midleton and Russell Rovers in the respective quarter and semi-final outings.

Sars in their rout of Cobh enjoyed superlative displays from former senior stars Cormac and Rory Duggan, Pat Barry, Ray Ryan and team captain Ronan Murphy, ably assisted by the free scoring Daniel O’Mahony, Alan Myers and Garry Grey. Repeat performances will be required from those fellas if the Rivertown side are to record their fourth triumph in the competition following in the footsteps of their predecessors in 2004, 1953 and 1936.

While the Saints will once again call on players of the calibre of Ed Kenneally, Shane Cotter, Daniel Mangan, team captain, Liam O’Connor, Brian Mulcahy, Shane Kearney, Stephen O’Brien, Conor Hegarty, Eoin Condon, Shane O’Brien and Shane Fitzgerald et al.  Featuring a nice blend of youth and experience in the purple and gold jerseys, representative of Ballynoe-Conna parish as the Saints endeavour to capture their fourth title in the grade to add to their previous achievements in 1983, 1981 and 1957. Therefore a thrilling encounter is in prospect at the seaside venue on Saturday afternoon. But where will the treasure and most famous Jamesy Kelleher Memorial Cup reside during the course of the next twelve months?

Sarsfields, given the inclusion of the aforementioned former senior stalwarts, will enter the equation as favourites to capture the spoils on offer, but a St Catherines side brimful with quite a lot of talented performers within their ranks won’t go down easily if at all and maybe they  have the greater desire and hunger to be crowed champions of Imokily. In the final analysis, however, I’m predicting a draw, with the side learning more from Saturday’s encounter emerging victorious in the replay. The game will be refereed by Ger Scully, Killeagh.


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