CHAMPIONSHIP LAUNCH..... Let The Games Begin!
April 27, 2018
The 2018 Muskerry junior A football and junior A hurling championships were launched at the home of last year’s Muskerry JAFC Champions Kilmurry last Monday night. Each club in the division were represented by a manager/selector and a player.
Cloughduv are defending JAHC Champions after beating Kilmichael in last year’s decider. They are going for a third Muskerry crown in four seasons this year.
Cloughduv start the defence of their crown against Éire Óg on May 26th in Blarney, aiming to lay the foundations for a successful year ahead.
Cloughduv forward Mark Verling has led the attack for the last number of years, and the sharpshooter is looking forward to the start of the hurling championship in just under a months’ time.
“We are very much looking forward to the start of the championship. We returned training just over a month ago. The weather had been awful before that, it just wasn’t possible to get out onto the pitch. We got the date of the championship two weeks ago, so all focus is on that game.”
Cloughduv boast one of the finest facilities in Cork, and their fantastic indoor astro turf pitch came in handy in recent months.
“We are very lucky here in Cloughduv that we have an indoor astro turf pitch, so we have made use of that recently. The weather has improved slightly in recent weeks, so it is all systems go from here on in.”
Cloughduv won the 2017 Muskerry final in convincing fashion, and were expected to make inroads into the County championship, but the manner of their defeat to Kilbrin, 4-15 to 1-10 in the opening round would have been extremely difficult to take. Verling is hoping lessons can be learnt.
“It was very disappointing, I would be lying if I said otherwise. It is something that sticks in the back of your mind for quite a while. But, as a squad, we will focus on this year, Éire Óg in the opening round and put our best foot forward. We will put the head down, train hard and see where it takes us.”
Éire Óg’s second team provide the opposition for Cloughduv in round one, Cloughduv certainly won’t be underestimating the team from Ovens.
“We have played numerous second teams in the championship over the years, so it is nothing new for us. You just go out there and give it everything, it doesn’t matter if it is their first, second or third team. We will take it game by game, as the club has always done. Éire Óg have a good underage, and a few nice young hurlers so they won’t be bad at all.” He concluded.
The championship starts this weekend with junior A football with two games taking place.
Kilmurry will open the defence of their title against Cill na Martra’s second team in the opening round on May 12th in Inchigeela.
The defending champions have the same management in place this season and results to date have been encouraging, winning three of their four league games.
Kilmurry will be led by captain Dave McCarthy this year, hoping to win the Muskerry crown for a third year in a row, having beaten Iveleary in the 2016 and 2017 decider. McCarthy says the preparation has gone according to plan, despite the inclement weather.
“We have been training hard now for the last few weeks. The pitches haven’t been too good, so we have been training indoors. On the back of Kilmurry’s Muskerry U21 success last month, the lads have returned to the junior panel, so the squad is getting stronger and stronger.”
After overcoming Iveleary in the 2017 Muskerry final, hopes were high that a successful county championship was on the cards, but Kilmurry got shocked by Erin’s Own in the quarter-final, 0-9 to 0-8. McCarthy feels the panel is stronger this year and lessons have been learnt.
“As I said above, the U21 success has given the club and parish a welcome boost, and a good few of those players are involved with the juniors this year. The most important thing is to try and forget about last year, in the way it ended and just try and keep improving.”
With the current championship structure across the board in Cork, it is crucial not to peak early in the season, something McCarthy and Kilmurry are aware of.
“The lads have been on the road for a good few years, so it is crucial that you peak at the right time. You don’t want to be burnt out in July, so we have been going along nicely this year, and feel we are in a much better position than previous seasons.”
Cill na Martra, a proud football club in the Gaeltacht area, will lock horns with the champions in just over two weeks’ time and Kilmurry won’t be taking them lightly.
“Cill na Martra will be strong, they had something like 42 players togged out for their PIFC Round 1 game recently. They will have strength in depth, a nice balance between experience and youth, it will be a difficult game.” He concluded.
Interviews by Barry O'Mahony