07 Dec 2021

OPINION: Correct and wise decision to proceed with Offaly senior hurling final

The man behind the wire

OPINION: Correct and wise decision to proceed with Offaly senior hurling final

Diarmuid Horan wins the ball in the 2019 Offaly senior hurling final

WELL done to the Offaly GAA Competitions Control Committee and in particular, Kilcormac/Killoughey GAA Club for proceeding with the 2020 Senior Hurling Championship final against St Rynagh's this Saturday.

With Offaly in the All-Ireland U-20 Football Championship final on Sunday, Kilcormac/Killoughey could have got the game postponed for a week if they wanted to. One of their players, Cathal Donoghue is a key member of the Offaly U-20 football side and Kilcormac/Killoughey would have been fully entitled to seek a postponement if they wished.

The County Board would have had no option but to grant it. Cathal Donoghue had played in some of their championship games last year, coming on as a sub in their convincing semi-final win over Belmont. He played U-20 hurling last year, is a fine player and definitely has a lot to offer Kilcormac/Killoughey at senior level.

A first cousin of Galway star Matthew Tierney, Donoghue's game of choice is football but Kilcormac/Killoughey is very much a hurling club and he is likely to play plenty of the small ball game for them.

His emergence as one of the stars on the Offaly U-20 football team is noteworthy as his path to this level has been a more difficult one than many of his colleagues. K/K are always capable of producing outstanding underage football teams. They have won underage championships down the years and just last week, they captured the 2020 U-15 Football Championship, completing a rare football and hurling double.

They have produced some outstanding footballers over the years. Liam Currums was a key member of the Offaly side that won the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship title in 1982. A brilliant dual player, he had won an All-Ireland senior hurling medal in 1981. Christy Hand and Paddy Screeney won All-Ireland minor football medals with Offaly in 1964 while Paddy Byrne captained the 1965 Leinster minor football champions.

Several players from the club have played underage football for Offaly over the years. A handful have played senior but for the most part, outstanding underage footballers in Kilcormac/Killoughey (formed in 1986 as an amalgmation of Kilcormac and Killoughey) haven't made the transition into outstanding adult footballers – that has certainly been the case at county level.

Donoghue will be different. He has already been called into John Maughan's senior panel and that door will almost certainly be opened for him again next season. K/K do a lot of work with underage football but at adult level, their clear priority is hurling. They are entitled to make that choice as a club, though it is always a pity when this limits the chances of excellent underage footballers of making the grade.

Irrespective of all that, K/K have taken a very wise decision by proceeding with the senior hurling final. Having trained with Offaly U-20 and senior footballers all year, Donoghue may not have been hurling sharp but he would have been part of the K/K plans for the final.

With the 2020 final postponed for so long, there is no doubt that K/K are ready for the final now and wanted it to go ahead. However, their decision is also for the greater good of Offaly GAA. When the Competitions Control Committee planned their schedule at the start of the year, they could never have legislated for Offaly appearing in an All-Ireland U-20 football final and this potentially scuppering the hurling decider.

They fixed the senior hurling final on the basis that the inter-county hurling season would be over and it would give clubs full access to their players for two weeks after the Christy Ring Cup final.

Offal;y's appearance in the U-20 final threw a potential spanner into the works but it will now go ahead, much to the relief of all parties – the two clubs and the County Board. A postponement would have been a disaster for the County Board as it would have forced them to re-assess their entire fixture schedule for the 2021 adult championships, and things are very tight as they are with only a limited margin for error and the unexpected.

It will be great to get the remaining 2020 finals out of the way this weekend – the senior “B” hurling final between Kinnitty and Drumcullen and the intermediate hurling showdown between Coolderry and Shinrone are also on Saturday.

Hopefully, the County Board's request for more than 500 to be allowed at the finals will be granted and it would be great if a couple of thousand people were allowed into O'Connor Park for the senior and senior “B” hurling deciders.

Ballinamere GAA Club lotto iPhone prize

BALLINAMERE GAA Club have put up an attractive prize for subscribers to their weekly lotto draw. With the jackpot currently a massive €16,300, they are giving away a free iPhone 12 in a draw for all existing lotto players and anyone new who signs up for a minimum 12 draws.

Their lotto draw can be subscribed to online through clubforce and details are on their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages. Ballinamere GAA Club would appreciate any support. 

Trivia corner

Last week's answers are:

1 – How many of the Offaly team that lost the 1989 All-Ireland minor football final started in the 1998 National Football League final?

Answer: Finbarr Cullen.

2 – When did Matt Connor score his first senior championship goal for Offaly?

Answer: June 4 1978 v Longford in Mullingar.

3 – Who was the first Offaly man to play in a Railway Cup hurling final?

Answer: Des Dooley 1943.

This week's questions are:

1 – Who was the first Offaly man to win a Railway Cup hurling medal?

2 – Name two members of the same family who captained Offaly to Leinster football titles, sixteen years apart?

3 – In 1981 when St Rynagh's won their 11th senior hurling title, name the two men that won their eleventh medal?

Answers in the next column. With thanks to former referee Carthage Buckley for supplying the questions.

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