Banteer and Millstreet renew JAHC rivalry
Banteer begin the defence of their E Tarrant & Sons Skoda Duhallow JAHC on a meeting against Millstreet.
Understandable scenes of delight greeted a six point victory for Banteer over reigning holders Kilbrin to last season's decider. On doing so, Banteer brought an end to a miserable record, having lost all six previous finals against Kilbrin, crucially, Banteer battled tenaciously all through an all important hour to secure a spirited triumph and end an eleven year barren run to claim the John Joe Brosnan Cup.
Clashes between Banteer and Millstreet have been keen in recent years, from 2014, Banteer defeated by Kilbrin in the opening round bounced back in the back door to better Millstreet.
From the following season, Millstreet upset the formbook to register a two-point victory. the winners remained fiercely determined all through to break the resolve of their neighbours. At the centre of Millstreet's deserved win was county player Mark Ellis whose physical presence and experience offered inspiring leadership to colleagues.
But when the sides clashed again in the 2016 semi-final, a blistering start propelled Banteer to a decisive win. Without ever having to extend themselves, all it required for Banteer was to settle into a decent rhythm to shoot 1-3 in the opening four minutes, a cushion that they would ultimately never surrender.
Having lifted their divisional final hodoo in 2017. that will surely give Banteer's confidence and an incentive to complete back to back titles.
Millstreet and the remaining challengers are sure to muster up a response that will include another familiar pairing in Freemount and Kilbrin. Some terrific tussles have emerged, in 2015, Freemount upset the odds to down reigning champions Kilbrin in a thrilling opening round.
Tagged as underdogs going into the game, Freemount served up a marvellous display in a fast, high scoring encounter, the winners first touch always better in a sharp edge to their game.
The sides renewed rivalry the following season where it took a replay to divide the pair in a quarter final. Having got out of jail in the drawn encounter eight days previously, Kilbrin delivered an improved showing yet it took a lengthy spell to confirm their superiority. Ultimately a fancied Kilbrin emerged worthy winners after outscoring Freemount 0-10 to 0-1 during the closing quarter.
That said, Kilbrin didn't have it all their own way earlier, the sides deadlocked on 10 occasions. Indeed, Freemount lacked nothing in effort yet with the game in the melting pot, a tiring side failed to match the relentless march of a powerful Kilbrin charge.
Elsewhere, no surprise when Newmarket were paired with Kanturk for the fourth consecutive season. 2015 saw Newmarket delivered a strong second half performance to switch on the power. Having operated second fiddle to Kanturk in the opening half, Newmarket emerged after the break and made handsome use of the wind at their back to overturn a seven point deficit.
Another storming second half paved the way for Newmarket to sweep past Kanturk in the opening round to 2016 and last season, Newmarket packed too much scoring power, a surge either side of the interval that yielded a trio of goals within 10 minutes reflected Newmarket's all round superiority.
To date, Newmarket have held the upperhand, Kanturk's second string will be influenced by their first team involvement in the Co. SHC.
The concluding first round tie brings together Dromtariffe and Castlemagner, the pair met at the same stage last season, debutants Dromtariffe held off a tremendous late rally from their neighbours.
Absorbing all through a competitive encounter, the game exploded into life during the closing minutes on Castlemagner pulling themselves off the canvas to shoot a pair of goals to force parity.
With extra time looming, Dromtariffe delivered the answers in added on time for sharpershooter Seán Howard post back to back pointed frees to secure a terrific win. Both Castlemagner and Dromtariffe possess young sides, capable of matching the best within the division.
From the involvement of eight teams in the JAHC, there is no shortage of optimism amongst participating sides ahead of a new campaign.