The three week wait for the Newmarket Footballers and their supporters is almost over, with the team heading for Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday, where they will take on Kanturk for the Bon Secours Premier Intermediate Football crown.
Kanturk, having recently secured the Senior A hurling title, topped PIFC group A with three wins from three, with victories over St. Nicks, Macroom and Naomh Abán. This ensured they bypassed the quarter-final stage, eventually taking on Aghada in a semi-final. The close contest was decided by late Kanturk scores, securing their place in the decider, with an undefeated record, earning them the favourites tag for the title.
Newmarket’s football season has been a journey of highs, lows and more highs. It began brightly with a solid league campaign, with an opening win over Fermoy in June. This was followed up later in the month with a victory over Beal Athan Ghaorthaidh. The group stage rounded off with a draw against Ballincollig, placing the team in the semi-final against O’Donovan Rossa. A 3-09 to 1-13 win meant Newmarket took on Castlehaven for the Cork Credit Unions Division 2 title. Despite a strong showing by the side, Castlehaven won out 1-14 to 4-15, on the day.
With the league complete, attention turned to the PIFC championship, with Group C presenting the familiar quartet of Newmarket, Aghada, Castletownbere and Na Piarsaigh. Although a carbon copy of the previous year’s group, which Newmarket topped with three wins, the outcome was unclear from the outset, with Newmarket suffering injuries and change of personnel, since the 2020 campaign. Honours were shared in the first round, with Newmarket drawing with Aghada, after a close battle. They then took on Na Piarsaigh, with the city side obtaining a three point win, leaving the season very much in the balance. Entering the final group game against Castletownbere, victory was a must, if the team were to have any chance of making the knockout stages. The hard fought one point win was secured on a rainy, floodlit October night, opening the door to a quarter final contest with Naomh Abán. The team played with a new freedom and flow, to advance to the semi final stage with a nine point win. At the penultimate step, they entertained the form team of the contest, Cill Na Martra and with a strong first half showing, secured their place back in the PIFC final for the first time since 2011.
With one more step to go, Newmarket will enter the caldron on Sunday, knowing, despite being underdogs, that they have the skill, spirit and determination to finish the journey.