Wednesday 17 January 2018

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Game On

Quarter-finals see things come to a boil

Thursday, 21st September, 2017 9:12am

It’s a bumper weekend with eight quarter-finals in the senior hurling and football championships due to be played and some intriguing games down for decision.

Senior hurling

Blackrock and Newcestown get proceedings underway in Páirc Ui Rinn on Saturday and with champions Glen Rovers now out of the equation, the path to the final has opened up.

Both have enjoyed good campaigns and will approach this tie in confident mood, although a heavy defeat in the under 21 grade will have done little for Newcestown’s morale.

Luke Meade is their key player along with Trevor Horgan, Michael McSweeney and Carthach Keane, while the ‘Rockies will look to the Cashmans and Stephen Murphy in a bid for a last four spot. The odds favour the city side advancing.

Na Piarsaigh, buoyed by their brilliant win over Glen Rovers will be favoured by many to advance but this is a tricky looking encounter as Bandon have been very impressive in their games to date and are still going strongly in the football championship.

The big concern for Na Piarsaigh is whether they be able to maintain the intensity and passion they displayed against their near neighbours. If they do, they will be very hard to beat, but they should not underestimate Bandon.

There are quality players on both teams: Christopher Joyce, Padraig Guest, Dayne Lee, Paul O’Sullivan and Anthony Dennehy for Na Piarsaigh, while the Crowleys, Michael Cahalane, Mark Sugrue and Eoghan O’Donovan for Bandon. I’ve a fancy for Na Piarsaigh but do not rule out another win for the West Cork side.

Imokilly and Erin’s Own is a repeat of last year’s semi-final in which the club side won a tight contest and really tested Glen in the final.

Word is that the divisional side have put in a big effort and with all bar Aghada out of their respective championships, there is little in the way of disruption. Brian Lawton, Paudie O’Sullivan, Dillon Cahill, John Looney, Will Leahy and Seamus Harnedy have plenty of experience and are capable of racking up a big score.

Erin’s Own have been in action recently, even if they were not at their best against Duhallow, but that match will have helped as will the win in the East Cork Junior Football Final.

Their team has altered very little over the years, with the Murphys - Eoghan, Kieran and Shane, Stephen Cronin, Shay Bowen, Cian O’Connor and Robbie O’Flynn all still delivering big performances.

They will relish this challenge and they might just take the win.

The UCC v Sarsfields encounter is filled with many possibilities, the students fielding a team that is the envy of many a club side, littered with top class inter-county stars.

Among them are the Waterford duo of Tom Devine and Conor Gleeson, Tipp’s Michael Breen and add in Cork players Colm Spillane, Mark Coleman and Darragh Fitzgibbon. If they are all available, they can produce a great performance.

Sars have been listed as one of the favourites for the title and they have justified that tag with some excellent displays, although in their last outing against Killeagh, they were at times sloppy with possession and a better side might have punished them. They do though have a very strong panel including Daniel and William Kearney, Conor O’Sullivan, Eoin Quigley, Aaron Myers and Jack O’Connor, who have impressed to date and will need to be at their very best if they are to see off a star studded UCC outfit.

Senior football

Friday start for the ‘Barrs v Ballincollig, two sides who are among the favourites for ultimate glory, yet by 9pm barring a draw, their ambitions will be over for another year.

It’s also a repeat of a first round clash in which Ballincollig were comfortable winners and to be fair they have looked impressive all year, although they did suffer a surprise loss to Valley Rovers in a 2A game; the ideal round to lose in, many would say.

Two very good teams in action here with some top class players on view: Paddy Kelly, John Miskella, Cian Dorgan and Noel Galvin have impressed for the champions of 2014 who are favourites for this game.

The ‘Barrs, and it’s hard to believe they are waiting since 1985 to add to their list of titles, will view this as an ideal opportunity to rectify that statistic. They won last time out against CIT without playing well, but Michael Shields, Ian Maguire, Stephen Sherlock and Dylan Quinn will certainly play much better and they will need if the ‘Barrs are to win and reverse the first round loss.

One of the biggest games of the weekend is pencilled in for Dunmanway at 7pm on Saturday and is sure to attract a huge crowd as the reigning champions Carbery Rangers put their title on the line against West Cork rivals Castlehaven, who will really relish this challenge. From their opening game in the championship, ironically in Castlehaven’s splendid new facilities, ‘Ross have looked every bit the champions they are and it will take a superb effort for the ‘Haven to end their reign.

John O’Rourke, James Fitzpatrick and Seamus and John Hayes look as hungry as ever for success and have the potential to trouble any team, but that said Castlehaven are renowned championship battlers and they will really be primed for this challenge.

Michael Hurley, Damien Cahalane and Mark Collins will lead their challenge but the odds favour the champions winning what should be a cracker, but they will get it tough, no doubt about that.

Macroom is the venue on Sunday for the clash of Duhallow and Valley Rovers who have been one of the teams of the championship so far with some great displays most notably last time out when coming from behind to defeat a strong Avondhu side.

Chris O’Leary is a doubt for Valleys and, if absent, will deny them a key player but their superior collective preparation gives them an edge. Duhallow have some very good players, especially in Donnacha O’Connor and Aidan Walsh if he plays, but Kanturk and Rockchapel have big games on Saturday and that will not help, which gives a nod to Valleys to make the semi-final.

UCC and Nemo Rangers are in Páirc Ui Rinn also on Sunday evening and like their hurlers, the students could have a very strong side on duty, but championship activity in other counties may affect the availability of some of their players.

Nemo were very impressive against Kiskeam in the last round but this is a step up in quality and they will know that only too well, as they have had some good battles over the years.

As ever, Nemo are one of the favourites for the title and with Paul Kerrigan, Luke Connolly, Micheál Aodh Martin, Colin O’Brien and Aidan O’Brien in good form they should win.

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