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Parish to raise Halloween spirits

Intermediate Hurling Final
Smith O’Brien’s v
St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield
at Cusack Park, Sunday 2.45pm

The spoils will be divided between trick or treat on Sunday when arguably the most important intermediate final since 2014 will finally be decided.
Considering the calibre of the teams embroiled in the senior relegation series in which Clarecastle, Clooney-Quin, Crusheen and O’Callaghan’s Mills have all contested top flight semi-finals in the past seven seasons and the last three have reached a county senior final in that time, there are two major sides set to come down to intermediate level which only heightens the necessity for either St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield or Smith O’Brien’s to seize their timely opportunity this Sunday.
Overall, it’s definitely not outlandish to suggest that the Parish are better equipped to not only go up but stay up such is the strength of the squad and the continuous conveyor belt of underage talent who have been playing at the highest level. Equally as significantly is their superior final experience as intermediate hurling (2016) and football (2020) triumphs allied to the lessons learned from their spurned 2019 hurling final bid against Broadford can all be referenced for Sunday’s showdown.
That’s not a luxury that Smith O’Brien’s have, with this being their first intermediate decider since 2004 when they also took down a heavy favourite Clooney-Quin who were equally experienced in contesting finals.
Collectively, Smith O’Brien’s are a fortified unit that have only strengthened their resolve over the past twelve months after seeing their intermediate dreams dashed by neighbours Scariff at the death in their semi-final bout in Sixmilebridge that went all the way to extra-time.
Indeed, Smith O’Brien’s have been ravenous in their execution this year, taking out last year’s finalists Tubber before completing a historic championship double over a fancied Tulla side in both the group and semi-final stages. It makes Tony Gleeson’s side a real threat if they can bypass any understandable nerves of being their first major final.
St Joseph’s shouldn’t have such anxieties as despite injuries, the Parish not only have strength in numbers but also a flexibility of gameplans in terms of the variety of attacking threats. With Davy Conroy returning to the fold last time out, it seems to be all coming together at the right time for Doora/Barefield as there will be no shred of complacency after recent sobering defeats.
After all, the Parish are still smarting from their own semi-final heartache from 2020 but in contrast to Smith O’Brien’s who were pipped at the post, it was St Joseph’s non-appearance against Tubber that still haunts them.
What better time than Halloween then to exorcise those ghosts, even if they can expect a scare or two along the way.

Verdict: St Joseph’s D/B

by Eoin Brennan

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