Tuesday 26 March 2019

Cloughduv have what it takes to down Ballinameela in JHC final

Munster Club JHC Final: Cloughduv v Ballinameela, Sunday December 2, Mallow GAA Complex, 1pm

Aidan Murphy of Cloughduv
Aidan Murphy of Cloughduv

Diarmuid Sheehan

Cloughduv will stride onto the pitch at Carrigoon this Sunday knowing that the country's largest county is behind them as they go in search of more provincial glory for the rebel county.

After Charleville's heroics, a few weekends back the Muskerry side will take their particular style of hurling to the opposition looking to follow the north Cork side into All Ireland action.

Cloughduv's win over Russell Rovers at Páirc Uí Rinn this season in the County JAHC Final put to bed the pain of recent county final defeats which came in 2009, 2010 and 2015 and while the pain of those losses will live long with those that tasted the pain this season's win was celebrated even more because of them.

It was all of 48 years since Cloughduv had last claimed junior glory and now, on the banks of the Blackwater in front of what is always a big crowd on provincial final day, the little club from the rural parish will look to make heroes of all that wear the shirt.

And those heroes will likely come from players of the quality of Brian Verling, Eoghan Clifford, Ger Aherne or Dave O'Leary with players of the quality of Mark Walsh, Donal Corkery and Joe Ryan also likely to make telling contributions.

The likely loss of club captain Mark Verling for the game will probably be the gap that manager Tim Barry-Murphy and his back-room team will have to face, but with a young and positive squad at his disposal missing just one first team player, even if it is the captain, should be overcome.

This weekend Cloughduv will also look to be strong at the back and that more often than not comes from their full back Brian Aherne. Aherne has put in some serious shifts this season already and will likely be their linchpin at the rear again this time round.

Brian Verling will be the major talisman for Cloughduv this Sunday and with the weather conditions potentially on the difficult side the hugely talented free taker will need to keep his wits about him and register as many opportunities as are afforded to him.

Cloughduv will likely start this one with no fewer than six Under 21s on the pitch this Sunday and that young contingent, according to manager Tim Barry-Murphy "is giving a new lease of life to some of the older players, while also giving the side plenty pace."

The benches will likely be a big issue this Sunday and thankfully for the Cork side they are quite strong in this regard. Over recent weeks and months players of the quality of Kevin Barry-Murphy have come on to make telling impacts and that will likely be required again this weekend as a full panel will be required to see this one through.

We have become accustomed to expansive and positive hurling this season and all in attendance will be hoping for more of the same but when all is said and done the weather conditions, as well as some early nerves will probably be more of a factor than usual.

Where do I see this one going? Well, difficult to separate them out from this range but after battling their way through Cork and then Munster while also considering the year that Cork hurling is having, it would be unwise to look past the rebel side to claim what would be the biggest win in this club's long hurling history but Waterford's Ballinameela will not give up the ghost without a fight.

Verdict: Cloughduv