Duhallow can cause upset
County SFC semi final: Duhallow v Castlehaven, Sunday, October 7, Pairc Uí Chaoimh 2.15pm
By their demolition of reigning County and Munster champions Nemo Rangers in the previous round, Castlehaven have shot into pole position in their quest to regain a hold of Cork's premier football prize.
To hold Nemo scoreless for more than 40 minutes had the statisticians digging deep, nobody can recall such an inept performance by the modern day kingpins in Cork football.
Both Castlehaven and Duhallow have been involved in a series of great tussles over the past 30 years, each coming to the fore when Cork won back-to-back All Ireland titles in 1989/1990.
Their last encounter from the 2012 County Final didn't exactly set the scene alight though from a dramatic finish, Castlehaven got the better of their divisional opponents in a scrappy encounter on squeezing home by 1-7 to 0-9.
Winning their first county title since 2003, fourteen-man Castlehaven grabbed the only goal right on the hour mark as substitute Shane Nolan fisted home Mark Collins' delivery in towards the square.
And though Cork star Donncha O'Connor pulled a point back for Duhallow in injury-time, Castlehaven clung on to take the spoils at the end of a tight, but largely disappointing game.
After Castlehaven completed back to back titles in the following season, there hasn't been too much coming to either side in recent years.
The 'Haven opened the current campaign with a win over Dohenys before their season turned around on a replay victory over a skilful CIT.
Those two games laid the groundwork for the 'Haven to rise to the occasion and turnover a misfiring Nemo. Indeed there is a good shape and balance to the West Cork side, Damien Cahalane is powerful in defence, team captain Mark Collins links up with Seán Dineen at midfield with the Hurley brothers, Cathal Maguire and Conor O'Driscoll holding plenty of scoring ability in attack.
Duhallow came through the divisional and colleges sector to face a well organised St Nicks in round 3. That game was in the balance for long stretches, Duhallow producing a late flourish without being over impressive.
An improvement surfaced against Valley Rovers, the club side denied of a few goaling opportunities yet the Duhallow response was more constructive as they rattled off telling scores.
Those behind the scenes will request more urgency from their charges. There is experience running through the divisional line up, Aidan Walsh and Lorcan McLoughlin joined by Kevin Crowley, Donncha O'Connor, Bart Daly and Seamus Hickey are all key.
It's just five years since Castlehaven were crowned back-to-back champions in 2013 and it goes back to 1991 since Duhallow took hold of the Andy Scannell Cup. Hardly surprising that Castlehaven carry the tag of warmest of favourites to succeed here.
The belief is Duhallow will have to play better here than in any of their performances from the past few years particularly last season when they faltered to Nemo by massive sixteen points, a chastening lesson not helped by a glut of club games from the same weekend.
Still Duhallow's resilience and spirit has been their hallmark going back over the years flying the divisional banner, entering Páirc Uí Chaoimh is sure to spur on the men from the barony, there is nothing like more than testing themselves against teams rated more highly and just maybe surprising fancied opponents.