Castlemartyr News

30 August, 2009

CASTLEMARTYR BID TO BRIDGE 45 YEAR GAP

The buntings and flags are up. The village is a riot of red and white. The red and white painted car is parked on the outskirts. The area is buzzing .The team are winding down preparations. The tension is mounting. Dare we dream of bringing back the Jamesy Kelleher to the village for the first time since 1964?

This Castlemartyr team are now in unchartered territory. Many times they had fallen at the penultimate stage and many wondered if the final would ever be reached. But the 2009 version, found it deep within themselves to throw off the shackles of previous failures, and beat Erin’s Own in the semi final with a display of skill, tenacity and total belief. Now that the initial goal has been reached, the goalposts move again, with this time solid, tangible silverware being the prize. The sixties were swinging when Jamesy last resided in Castlemartyr. Isn’t it time, that things started swinging again?

Sarsfields are the team that stand between this Castlemartyr team and greatness. They will start the hottest of favourites to regain the crown they last won in 2005.In their impressive performances to date this year in the championship, they have been described as not only as an Intermediate team but as a Premier Intermediate team. What hope then for the boys in Red?

Sars path to the final has been impressive. They mauled last year’s champions Carrignavar in the opening round and immediately set down a marker that they would be the team to beat in this year’s championship. After a lengthy lay off they overcame a Dungourney team that threw everything they had at them, but were clinically picked off in the second half when Sars upped the ante.A highly motivated Lisgoold outfit nearly caused the upset of the championship when they drew with the Glanmire men in the semi-final, but the replay was a different affair with Sars crushing the brave Lisgoold challange in a one sided contest. In truth the first day scare against Lisgoold was probably a blessing in disguise for the Sars men, as it will put them on guard for the remainder of the year that no team should be underestimated.

Castlemartyr’s journey to the final has been an interesting one for all concerned. A dull encounter with Cloyne in the opening round, where the Reds scraped an unimpressive win, was followed by an epic match against Midleton where the Reds scored a last minute winner to advance to the quarter final. Carrigtwohill were overcome easily in that match, but the piece de resistance was the unforgettable dogfight of a semi final against Erin’s Own, where Castlemartyr edged through by the narrowest of margins.

Can Sars be stopped? Not many think so, but this Castlemartyr team may never reach a final again so they will have to grab this one opportunity with both hands and put in the performance of their lives. There is no doubt that Sars have technically the better hurlers, but one can hope that if the 15 Reds that start and however many come on, play with all the pride, passion and skill they can muster and play for each other as a team like they have being doing since the Midleton game, they may make a contest of it .And if the contest becomes a dogfight, then who knows?

Club Chairman/Fundraiser Draw Co-Ordinator, Kiltha Og Trainer aka David Fleming will stand between the sticks for the umpteenth time for his club. Now part of the Junior set-up since 1985, he must have wondered many times would he ever walk behind the Pipe Band on East Cork Final day. Finally his persistence has been rewarded with a Final appearance, but now the real work starts. David’s clean sheet against Erin’s Own was instrumental in the victory and this must be repeated against Sars if the Reds are to stand any chance. Who can forget his brave goalkeeping that night when he threw his body on the line to foil the Erin’s Own men? Once more with feeling please Dave.

The full back line was magnificent in the semi final, but the Sars attack will be a far more formidable challenge. When Sars get going their attack looks unstoppable, but stopped somehow they must. Barra O Tuama was very much at home in the right full back spot against Erin’s Own, while Big Rob O Donavan made many relieving clearances and had his best game in the campaign to date. James Deehan in the other corner was also back to his sticky best but as previously said Sars will be far slicker in attack and all three will have to have the game of their lives, work cleverly as a unit and sacrifice body and limb to stop the Sars boys scoring.

Team captain Ollie Smiddy , Brian Smiddy and Adrian Bowens will probably make up the half back line, and it is on these three that so much will depend if the Reds are to compete .Clearances will have to be made whether struck or kicked, and their men will have to be closed down at all times. If Sars gain the upper hand here then its game over, so another Game of a Lifetime performance will be required by the 3 lads.

Brian Lawton and Peter Horgan had great games in the semi final, driving forward at every opportunity but will still have to redouble their efforts against Sars. Brian is having a superb campaign to date and Peter too has made the most of his opportunity since breaking into the side against Carrigtwohill. These two will not lack for effort and commitment, no matter how things are going and the rest of the lads will hopefully be driven on by their endeavours.

Sean Hennessey will man the” 40” and will be able to derive lots of confidence from his second half performance in the semi final. He won plenty of ball and also chipped in with two fine points to turn the game Castlemartyrs way, when things were looking ropey.Derek Bowens and Jimmy Smiddy will fill the wing berths and as usual ball winning at puck outs will be of massive importance here. If these 3 can click and primarily stop their own men dominating and then start scoring themselves then Castlemartyr will be able to put up a right good challenge. Jimmy has been plugging away now since 1991 without any success with Castlemartyr, although he won a couple of Senior Counties with Imokilly and All Ireland Intermediates with Cork, but he would gladly swop those medals for an East Cork with his beloved Castlemartyr.

Comeback King Mark Bowens will wear the number 14 and will have to be on the top of his game to make an impression against the Sars rearguard. Up till the Carrig game it had been 6 years since Mark had started a championship game, but in the meantime he has put together two decent performances. In the final though, the stakes will be higher and chances will be few and far between. If the chance does come, it must be taken, in order to keep pressure on the Sars men and make a game of it. Barry Lawton and Evan O Keefe will complete the scoring threat up front, and on their day are both well capable of causing problems for any defence. If they can get a decent supply of ball they will score, but they must also ensure that they allow no easy clearances from the Sars defence.

Castlemartyr are well served on the bench with Eddie Clifford, Colin Bowens, Brian O Tuama, Brian Barrett, Damien McAuliffe, Donnacha O Tuama and Dessie Murphy all raring to be part of the action. No doubt they will be called into battle as the game develops so they must all be ready when their time comes.

So best of luck to Seamus Lawton and his backroom staff of Tony Barrett, Donal McCarthy, Donal Burke, Johnny Walshe and Martin McSweeney. They have got the best out of these bunch of players so far this year and when all is said and done ,you can’t ask for more than that.

“Let’s bury the ghost 0f 64” a former Castlemartyr great bellowed as he galloped out of a hyped up dressing room to enter championship fray, sometime back in the 1970’s. That ghost has done a lot of haunting since lads.

Try and put it to rest.