Cork players face into some crucial All-Ireland Final showdowns over the next few days in the hope they can win that elusive All-Ireland medal.
Starting this Thursday at the Kildare venue Ballymore Eustace at 7.30pm our Mallow Credit Union sponsored U-15 Doubles pairing Darragh Moynihan, Mallow, and Kevin O'Connell, Ballydesmond, face Dublin Ciaran Flanagan/ Michael Varley in what will no doubt be a searching test.
Both had impressive semi-finals wins the Cork pair overcoming Cavan while Dublin disposed of the Galway challenge. It's a hard game to call but we would be hopeful that the displays of our pairing in winning Munster and disposing of Cavan is good enough to see them edge out Dublin in this final.
Moving on to Saturday Cork players contest four All-Ireland singles finals where we start with the Clare venue Tuamgraney at 2pm where Liscarroll player Pat O'Brien plays Paddy Walsh, Sligo, in Over-70s singles. This is not going to be an easy one for Pat as Paddy Walsh has been an outstanding performer all through the age groups and won't be easily beaten.
Moving on to Cashel on Saturday with a 3pm start Cork players contest two of the three games on the programme. Starting with Golden Masters A Singles John Herlihy, St Finbarrs, takes on Kildare's Michael Dowling. They met twice last year, first in the Golden Masters Singles semi-final, which the Kildare man won narrowly and went on to win the All-Ireland. The second meeting was in the final of the Nationals, which also carried the added prize of representing Ireland in the World Championship. John Herlihy won that battle and I have no doubt if he plays well he will be crowned All-Ireland champion on Saturday evening.
In the last game on the Cashel programme John Casey, Ballydesmond, takes on Peter Reilly, Meath, in Junior B Singles. It won't be an easy one as Reilly is a good player but again if John Casey can repeat the form he has shown to date in the championship he can win the title.
Moving on to the Offaly venue Crinkle on Saturday also with a 3pm start Mallow player Dale Cusack will be striving to win that elusive All-Ireland medal when he faces Kilkenny's Stephen Barcoe in Over-35 B Singles.
Two good players face one another in this final no doubt on his best form it's one Cusack can win, but finals are finals and if the Kilkenny player is up for it he won't be easily beaten.
Last weekend Cork contested five All-Ireland semi-finals, winning two and losing three. At O'Loughlins, Kilkenny in the O'Neills sponsored Open Senior Doubles championship Killian Carroll, Mallow, and Brendan Fleming, Ballydesmond, stepped onto the court to take on a very fancied Meath pair of Brian Carroll and Carl Browne. Meath were, in many people's mind, already in the Final but did not reckon with the fighting spirit of Fleming and Carroll.
After a mighty battle Killian and Brendan won the first 21-16, but Meath came back to win the second 21-13 and take the game to a tie break third. It was ding dong all the way but in the end the Cork boys got their heads in front and lasted it out to win 21-16 and book a place in the final.
The second semi-final was very much one way traffic as the reigning champions Cavans Paul Brady/Michael Finnegan partnership took complete control from the word go to easily dispose of Mayo's challenge Dessie Keegan / Joe McCann winning in two straight games 21-4, 21-4. It's a Cork v Cavan Final in two week's time.
In Under-21 Doubles Mallow pair Killian Carroll/Patrick Herlihy easily disposed of the Monaghan challenge winning both games with consummate ease on a score of 21-4, 21-7.
In Munster U-14/15 team championship our Mallow Credit Union sponsored team took on Clare in a Munster Final in Mallow on Thursday last and came away with a very exciting win as all the players involved played a crucial part in this victory. The early games were very close which left the sides deadlocked at 41 aces each going into the last Doubles game.
However, our last pair of David Walsh, Mallow and David O'Connor, Boherbue, played a blinder, outplaying and outwitting their opponents in both games, winning 15-8, 15-6 to give our team a clearcut 71 to 55 aces victory and a place in the All-Ireland semi-finals in a few weeks.
The full Cork team was three Mallow players - Tadhg O'Neill, David Walsh, Eoghan Sheehan -, three Ballydesmond players - Darragh Moynihan, Pauric O'Leary and Jerry Cronin, along with Oisin Hickey, Kilworth, and David O'Connor, Boherbue.
A lot of work went in behind the scenes preparing the team and there is no doubt but with more work in the next few weeks they can improve further in that semi-final.
There was mixed fortunes for the players involved in the Junior National qualifiers last weekend, some kept their hopes alive by advancing while a number bowed out albeit narrowly. The Junior Nationals proper are scheduled for the weekend of April 20/21.