COUNTY IFC SEMIFINAL -- THE long wait since April is finally over and this Saturday we will finally learn the identity of Spa's opponents in the Intermediate Final as Ardfert and Finuge meet in Austin Stack Park.
This is a repeat of the 2006 semi-final in the same competition, a tight battle which the St Brendans side won by the narrowest of margins on the way to their second All-Ireland club title, but Pat O'Driscoll ( below) has to make do without nearly three-quarters of that side due to emigration in the years since. Hurling has been the main focus in recent times with both St Brendans and Lixnaw's progress taking up much of the time since both teams defeated Annascaul and John Mitchels respectively in the quarter-finals.
Finuge's players won't be short of fitness with at least 11 of the team that finished the Hurling semi-final with Kilmoyley expected to line out in Tralee but the return of Paul Galvin is the big advantage for the North Kerry side with new Kerry senior boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice the target man at full-forward for much of the year so far. Ardfert have struggled in the County League, but their win over Gneeveguilla recently has lifted morale and while the likes of John Egan, Damian Wallace and Jonathon Best to name a few are major losses, they still have the spirit of that great run in the middle of the Noughties very much in their thoughts and won't go down easily by any means this weekend.
Finuge were just about piped by Gneeveguilla in an intense final two years ago and, while they disappointed in last year's First Round against Spa, the chance to make right that defeat in the Final is likely to be a massive incentive going into this crunch match. It will be intense, it will be hard fought and a victory well earned for either, but Finuge probably just have the odds stacking in their favour at the outset.