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Busy may weekend for club and county

Wednesday, 29th April, 2015 7:30pm

There are six games in the first  round of the clubs section of the Senior Football County Championship and all are attractive in their own right.

A place in Round 4 and next year's championship is at stake, along with the desire to avoid being dragged into the loser's round.

Nemo Rangers and Ilen Rovers get the action underway in Dunmanway on Saturday at 4pm. These sides met last year and Nemo ran out easy winners. They do have a number of injury worries though and Ilen had a good win over the 'Barrs in the league last week.

Tomas Ó Se's championship debut adds interest to this clash and that, coupled with Nemo's greater experience, should see them win.

Later that evening, in Páirc Uí Rinn at 7.45pm, it's Dohenys and Aghada, with the latter fancied to win a close contest.

A West Cork derby on Sunday night in Dunmanway at 7pm between Clonakilty and Newcestown and this one will be close as Newcestown have the capacity to make it difficult for whatever opposition they face. While Clon are favourites, they will need to be at their very best to win this one, anything less and they won't.

Two interesting games on Monday; Bishopstown and O'Donovan Rossa meet in Clonakilty at 3.30pm and with Cork players Ken O'Halloran, Jamie O'Sullivan and Conor Dorman key to the 'Town's cause, they should have enough experience to edge this one.

The champions, Ballincollig, begin the defence of their title when the play St Finbarr's in a repeat of last year's first  round tie in Páirc Uí Rinn at 4.45pm and the big question here is will Ian Maguire and Paddy Kelly line out for their respective teams given their recent injuries?

Kelly was a huge influence for the champions in their history-making run last year and if he is missing, the balance might ever so slightly tilt the 'Barrs way. But Ballincollig will be keen to repeat last year's win and the confidence gained as champions might just be enough to get them over the line.

Allianz NHL FinalCork vs WaterfordIt isn't the ideal final with these two sides due to meet again in a few weeks time in the semi-final of the Munster Championship, but it is what it is and with a national title at stake, the championship encounter will be put on the back burner.

It is a fair achievement for Waterford to reach the decider, considering they were in Division 1B, came through unbeaten, and then had excellent wins over Galway and Tipperary to qualify for the final.

The win over Tipperary was notable in that they conceded two early goals but displayed remarkable resilience to beat a side that are favoured by many to win the All-Ireland title this year.

Derek McGrath has completely re-shaped his team, going with many of the players that were on the winning All-Ireland minor team of 2013 and discarding of a few of the veterans. That did not sit well with some in his own county, but his decisions to-date have been vindicated.

The other big change has been the system that his side have adopted, some comparing it to the Donegal footballers, such is the defensive nature in which Waterford play.

Stop the opposition from scoring, pack the defence and then let Pauric Mahony deliver the points from frees.  If only it was that simple, Waterford have a nicely balanced side and, while they may see getting this far as a bonus, that also relieves the pressure on them as Cork are clearly favourites.

Tadhg De Burca, Shane Fives, Jamie Barron, Kevin Moran, Jake Dillon and Colin Dunford will relish the prospect this challenge presents.

Cork will be conscious that they have been poor in the first-half of their two most recent games, the quarter-final win over Wexford and the dramatic semi-final victory over Dublin, they will want to start better on Sunday.

The expected return to the defence of Mark Ellis and Cormac Murphy will help and with Stephen McDonnell and Shane O'Neill in good form, they are capable of keeping tabs on whatever attacking formation the opposition come up with it.

Aidan Walsh, who was outstanding in the semi-final and Daniel Kearney should give Cork an edge in midfield, while the forwards will need to be clever in their efforts to breach the defensive set that Waterford employ.

That said, Patrick Horgan, Bill Cooper, Seamus Harnedy and Conor Lehane are a threat to any defence and the manner in which they reeled in Dublin will have given them that extra bit of confidence heading into this game.

Both camps will deny that the outcome will have any bearing on the championship game in June, but the winners will surely have an edge for the next encounter.

Cork are favourites and it's a tag they should justify, but only if they produce a consistent 70 minutes. Deliver that and the wait for another league title should be at an end.

Division 1 Camogie League Final Cork v Galway  

The last two All-Ireland champions go head-to-head in this final and let's hope the expected large rebel support get in early to support this quality Cork team.

Paudie Murray will be pleased at reaching this final considering that throughout the group stages, he has mixed and matched the team. To remain unbeaten only adds depth to the squad ahead of the championship and it would be nice to begin the defence of their All-Ireland crown as league champions.

It is likely that the players that have anchored the team will once again be to the fore on Sunday; the experienced Eimear O'Sullivan, Orla Cotter, Laura Treacy, Aisling Thompson, Catriona Mackey and newcomers Leanne O'Sullivan, Finola Neville, Amy O'Connor and Lauren Callanan gives a nice balance to the team.

Niamh Kilkenny and Niamh McGrath are two of Galway's best-known players and manager Tony Ward will be keen to bridge a 10 year gap since their last win in this competition.

Hard one to call, but the nod goes to Cork. Just.

Sympathy

Camogie and the GAA are this week mourning the loss of two very special people.

Kathleen Costine from Cloyne passed away after an illness that she battled with all the bravery she displayed as a fearless goalkeeper. Three All-Ireland senior medals - along with Minor and Junior medals, National League and Gael Linn honours - were all won during her career as well as Senior County medals with Killeagh.

She left a legacy of outstanding memories and the friendships she made are testimony to one of camogie's most enduring characters on and off the field.

Jim Cronin's legacy is in the many wonderful historic books he published over many years, including the History of Cork GAA, the story of Cork's 100 All-Ireland wins, along with the story of his beloved Millstreet, who he represented with distinction in the County Board.

Jim served as PRO, Vice-Chairman and Chairman from 2000-2002 and was one of nature's gentleman. Sadly, he was inactive for a number of years and the fact that he was not in Páirc Ui Rinn when Millstreet were crowned County Junior champions last October, was a source of regret to many from that famed club.

Sincere sympathy to the families of Jim and Kathleen, they will be missed.

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