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Cork Independent

Game On

Football championship ramps up

Wednesday, 11th April, 2018 5:08pm

Although there was a small number of championship ties last weekend, the Cork County Championships are set to go up a gear this weekend, with a large number of opening games in the various tiers.

Senior Football

Both the champions and the runners-up begin their campaigns, and the expectation is that they will advance, but they would not want to underestimate the opposition.

It’s St Finbarrs vs Carrigaline on Friday in Páirc Uí Rinn at 7.30pm and the ‘Barrs' form has been good of late, and with Michael Shields now free of intercounty commitments, his availability on a regular basis is a boost and with Stephen Sherlock and Dylan Quinn also in good form they should prevail.

The champions may have a new manager in Paul O’Donovan, and Billy Morgan is part of his backroom team, but the Nemo Rangers machine will just move smoothly along.

Paul Kerrigan and Paddy Gumley are injury absentees and Tomas O’Se has retired, but they still have the nucleus of last season’s winning team on duty, including Luke Connolly, Colin O’Brien and Micheal Martin, and while the disappointment of the All-Ireland defeat still hurts, a win here will get them back on track. Throw-in is at 6pm in Páirc Uí Rinn.

The second game here is last week’s postponed encounter between Aghada and O’Donovan Rossa at 7.45pm.

A West Cork derby in Rosscarbery at 6.15pm on Saturday, with Castlehaven facing Dohenys, who have been struggling of late and are without a few key men through injury.

Mark Collins had a very impressive league campaign with Cork, and with Damien Cahalane and Michael Hurley also in their side, it’s difficult to see Doheny’s causing an upset.

Sunday will see three more games take place and all should produce lively encounters, none more so then that of near neighbours and keen rivals Newcestown and Valley Rovers in Bandon at 3pm, with the latter having the advantage of a winning start against Mallow last week.

Newcestown, though, love a challenge and with Luke Meade and Cathrach Keane still delivering big games, they are well capable of winning.

Castlehaven is the perfect setting for the clash of Carbery Rangers and Clonakilty at 4pm. It’s a repeat of last year’s first round, a game in which ‘Ross won with a bit to spare, a nice incentive for Clon to reverse that. The White brothers will lead the Clon challenge, while the Hayes brothers, James Fitzpatrick and John O’Rourke are key for the champions of two years ago, and they look better equipped to win.

Macroom is the venue for the meeting of Ilen Rovers and Ballicollig at 4pm, and here it would come as a surprise were Ilen to win as they are a side in transition, while Ballincollig are still anchored by a very experienced group of players, among them Paddy Kelly.

Extra-time to be played in all these games, and should replays be required they will take place within a week. For the winners, it’s on into Round 3 to join Bishopstown and St Nick’s, for the losers it’s Round 2 and an opportunity to keep their championship ambitions alive.

Premier Intermediate Football

Some interesting games in this very competitive grade and the matches that were postponed last week, Bantry Blues vs Fermoy, Bandon vs Naomh Aban and St Vincent’s vs Castletownbere all go ahead this week.

There’s an intriguing mid-Cork derby in Macroom between Eire Og and Ballingeary, who were well beaten by Nemo Rangers in Division 1 of the league last week and will want to put that behind them. They face a tough task here, and for the losers it’s another local derby as Macroom lie in wait.

Kanturk make their debut in this grade and face Nemo’s second team, the composition of which won’t be known until after their senior game on Saturday, which might give them a slight edge.

Intermediate Football Championship

16 of the 18 clubs are in action this weekend and there are a couple of standout ties, not least the all Duhallow clash of Knocknagree and Rockchapel which should draw a huge crowd to Newmarket on Sunday. The recently crowned All-Ireland Junior champions will want to start another campaign with a win, but the ‘Rock would equally be only to delighted to end their winning run. A hard one to call, but a nod to John Fintan Daly’s side, but only just.

St Finbarrs will be fancied to beat Gabriel Rangers, Glanmire might shade their clash with Kildorrery, while Glanworth look too strong for Grenagh.

There’s another mid-Cork derby where Cill Na Martra should overcome the challenge of Ballinora, while the presence of Donnacha O’Connor in the Ballydesmond side might help them get over the line against Aghabullogue.

Mitchelstown will be favourites in their meeting with Kinsale, while Youghal should be too strong for Carrigaline’s second team.

Elsewhere

One game in the Premier Intermediate Hurling Championship on Sunday when North Cork rivals Charleville and Kilworth meet in Kildorrery at 5pm, where the presence of Darragh Fitzgibbon in the Ben O’Connor-managed Charleville side could tilt the tie their way.

On Saturday in Kilmallock at 2.30pm, Cork meet Clare in the All-Ireland Minor Camogie semi-final, and after a very impressive group campaign, Cork, coached by former Midleton boss Jerry Wallace, will be favoured to win.

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