The buntings are up, the flags are flying high, the posters are everywhere and the village is draped in the proud colours of the famous black and red.
Come this Friday night at 8.15pm in Páirc Uí Rinn the Shanballymore hurlers will be going all out to write their selves in to the history books once again and bring home the County Junior B hurling title.
The past two weeks has seen a buzz in the village that hasn’t been seen since the mid-90s when we won the Junior A hurling North Cork in 1996 And 1997.
The village and especially the local GAA field has been a hive of activity with supporters young and old calling in to watch the boys train and be put through their paces in preparation for this final.
Kids from our juvenile club can be seen wearing their Shanballymore jerseys at every opportunity and all the talk around the village is about Friday night in Páirc Uí Rinn.
Thankfully the players have been able to concentrate on the playing side of things and the job that must be done come Friday night and everything seems to be going according to plan for the final.
We were lucky enough to have a surprise visitor to the field last Friday night to train the team, when the great Seán Óg Ó hAilpín came to do a training session.
For an hour and a half he put the lads through a series of well organised drills, that included plenty running and lots of ball work. He concluded the session with some sound and stern advice that everybody will be taking into Friday night.
A big thank you to Seán Óg for taking the time to call down and for his kind and encouraging words – a true gentleman.
We would also like to thank all the people who have sent their best wishes to the team and club – and to the other clubs in Avondhu who have been sending messages of support.
The people of the village have been fantastic over the last two weeks and everybody is really getting behind the team. Buses are being organised for the team and supporters, but for anybody travelling by car it would be wise to set off early because Grange and Kilmeen are playing in the County Junior B football final before us and parking around Páirc Uí Rinn will be limited.
All the best to our fellow North Cork team Grange on their big day!
A little bit of a run down on how we reached this final will tell you that we have put up some good scores along the way.
A first round victory over Cork city side Lough Rovers on a score of 1-28 to 1-07 – showing that the team were in fantastic form from the start of this year’s championship.
The draw for the 3rd round was kind to us in one way, in that we progressed to the quarter final via a bye – but we faced old foes Araglin who also received a bye. This game was played in Mitchellstown a few weeks ago.
It was a wet night that saw the heavens open just before throw-in, but this didn’t stop the boys from starting the match in whirlwind fashion and lead 1-6 to 0-1 after 15 minutes. They continued this momentum till half time and even though Araglin did come with the expected fight back in the second half there was no denying our place in the semi-final for the second year running.
The final score was Shanballymore 1-19 Araglin 1-8.
The semi-final was played two weeks ago in Rathpeacon against West Cork side Randal Óg.
After a tough, physical first half which saw the teams level at 0-6 a piece we came out in the second half a completely different outfit and blitzed Randal Óg in the first ten minutes to lead 0-12 to 0-6. They did to their credit fight back and got a goal and a point to come within two points, but that was as close as they got as we closed out the game with some superb points and a great goal from sub Dylan O’Callaghan to run out winners 1-16 to 1-7.
This set up a final date with Bantry Blues, who have had a tough battle to get to the final themselves. They lost to Araglin in the opening round, but recovered with victories over Lough Rovers, Ballinacurra and White’s Cross. They then went on to beat firm favourites Dromtarriffe in the other semi-final two weeks ago in Kilmicheal.
The squad for Friday night is as follows: Declan Fitzgibbon, Eoin McHugh, Jonathan Dennehy, Alan Sheedy, Sean Lynch, Eoin O’Regan, Jerome Fitzgerald, Haulie Burke, Darren Roche, Brian Sheedy, Brian O’Reilly, Jamie Sheedy, Vincent Burke, Colman O’Reilly, Dylan O’Callaghan, Paul Burke, Robert McHugh, Shaun Cronin, Richard Burke, Padraig Fitzgerald, Mick O’Donovan, Stephen Donegan, James Hayes, Niall Barry, Brendan Hayes, Kenneth Barry, Brian O’Regan, Eamonn Fitzgerald, Jonathan Linehan, Dave Twomey, Anthony Dennehy, Aidan Herbert, Barry Sheedy, Richard Hallinan, Jimmy Burke.
Our captain on Friday night and hoping to be the first Shanballymore man to lift a adult County Championship cup since 1951 is Brian O’Reilly.
Brian will be no stranger to the pressure of being captain on final day as he led Cork to win the U14 All Ireland in 2008 when they won the Tony Forristal Cup in Waterford. Two years later he again captained them at U16 and was awarded the famous Christy Ring Cup in 2010 that was given to the most outstanding U16 hurler in Cork.
In the scoring department we have had a whole range of different scores which is great to see and leading the way in our three games with 1-14 is Colman O’Reilly with his brother Brian scoring 0-09, Jerome Fitzgerald has chipped in with 1-5 and brothers Jamie and Brian Sheedy have 0-7 a piece.
See blow for our Championship scorers breakdown.
If the scoring has been impressive, our goalkeeper and back line deserve so much credit for their performances to date with Lough Rovers and Randal Óg only scoring 1-7 each and Araglen only scoring 1-8.
Also massive credit must go to the trainer and selectors who have put in an enormous amount of work over the last seven months both on and off the field.
Come Friday night hopefully Jim O’Sullivan, Conor Hannon, Pat Walsh and Tom Palmer will be a winning County Championship management team.
A special word of thanks to our long serving sponsors the O’Donovan family of Sherry Fitzgerald O’Donovan, who for years now have been sponsoring Shanballymore adult GAA teams. Last Friday night Micheal O’Donovan was on hand to present a new set of jerseys to club captain Brian O’Reilly for the upcoming final.
2015 Championship Scorers
Colman O’Reilly 1-14
Brian O’Reilly 0-09
Jerome Fitzgerald 1-05
Brian Sheedy 0-07 (0-01f)
Jamie Sheedy 0-07 (0-05f, 0-01 65s)
Dylan Callaghan 1-02
Haulie Burke 0-04
Vincent Burke 0-04
Eoin O’Regan 0-03 (0-2f)
Darren Roche 0-03
Alan Sheedy 0-02
Paudie Fitzgerald 0-01
Shaun Cronin 0-01
Mick Donovan 0-01
Best wishes to the whole team tonight but in particular my two nephews, Coleman and Brian O’Reilly
A big congratulations to the Shamballymore Junior B team who won the county final. We are very happy for you all & wish you continued success.
A very special welcome home to Zoë & Padraig Fitzgerald from their honeymoon (a day early especially for the match!)
From Auntie Ness, Austin, Eoin & Aisling