U21 Hurling County Final Preview
BALLINCOLLIG’S U21 HURLERS POINT THE WAY FORWARD
---Evening Echo Extract Author Oct 26 016 by Eamonn Murphy---
THE BLEND of minors and more experienced members of the club’s intermediate side has been the key to Ballincollig reaching a first U21 county hurling final in 20 years, which takes place at 1.30pm at Páirc Uí Rinn.
Team manager Terence O’Leary feels the Collig have got the balance right so far this season, where they pushed on from their replayed Mid Cork final win over Éire Óg to defeat Kilworth by 12 points in last Saturday’s county semi-final.
Ballincollig's Cian Dorgan striking the ball clear of Kilworth's Timmy Dunne in the U21 A HC semi-final at Watergrasshill. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Ballincollig’s Cian Dorgan striking the ball clear of Kilworth’s Timmy Dunne in the U21 A HC semi-final at Watergrasshill. Picture: Denis Minihane.
“We’ve a real mix. There are a lot of young hurlers out there, Cork minors or lads who have been on development squads, up to Cian Dorgan, Sean Lucey and Luke Fahy, who all played for the senior footballers in the county football final. We’ve a great balance really and we’re going at it since March.
“We hosted the Lucey Cup, where we invited three senior clubs, and we ended up winning that, which got us going early on. We really have worked hard to get this far.”
Ballincollig were crowned U21 champions back in 1996 with a team that included John Miskella and current Cork minor hurling coach Johnny Dwyer but have struggled to even emerge from their division since, last lifting the Muskerry trophy in 2007. The competition has of course been diluted somewhat this year, with Inniscarra and Blarney moving up to contest the new premier U21 tier, but it was one the club needed to do well in.
Ballincollig's Sean Walsh wins the ball from Kilworth's James McCarthy. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Ballincollig’s Sean Walsh wins the ball from Kilworth’s James McCarthy. Picture: Denis Minihane.
There was no arguing with Collig’s 0-19 to 0-7 victory over Kilworth, with minors like James O’Leary, Karl Spillane, Ben Keohane, Robbie Bourke and Sean Walsh all to the fore. The question of course is will Ballincollig be as battle-hardened in next weekend’s final as an Erin’s Own outfit, spearheaded by Robbie and James O’Flynn, who emerged after a really tough test against Clon.
“We never say it’s too easy, we didn’t know how the game was going to go so we’ll take it. If we’d won the toss we’d have played with the wind but they ended up getting it and we probably did a lot of the hard work in the first half, going in two points ahead. In all our games, in Mid Cork, and this, we’ve never gone behind, and when we’d the two-point we were able to drive on from that.
“We’ve watched Erin’s Own. They’re a senior club, contesting for counties, so we’ll have a lot to do against them obviously, but look we’re there, we’ll enjoy it.”
Ballincollig were relegated from the premier intermediate grade in 2013 and haven’t got past the quarter-final stage of the IHC since. A big push has gone in underage to bring up the hurling standard across the board, while they’ve won the Premier 2 minor competition twice, in 2012 and 2003. Brian Cotter, captain of the ’03 team is a selector with the new crop, along with Eoghan O’Callaghan and Ger ‘Speedie’ O’Donovan, who is also Ballincollig senior section chairman.
Manager Terence O’Leary’s son Matt is midfield with the U21s, and O’Donovan’s eldest son Colin is full-forward, while 19-year-old brother Aidan is currently recovering from injury.