Hurling quarter-finals top bill
There’s an interesting double bill in Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday afternoon, and with semi-final places up for grabs, there is a lot to play for for all four teams, and all four will fancy their chances of extending their season.
Ballyhea and Carrigtwohill open proceedings at 2pm and after their first round losses - heavily it must be said - this could very well be described as bonus territory for both teams.
Be that as it may, they are here on merit, and not only are they battling for a place in the semi-final, they do so safe in the knowledge that they are guaranteed top flight hurling in 2020.
Of the two, Carrig suffered a very heavy loss to the ‘Barrs in Round 1, but they have turned their season around with Keith Ricken guiding their fortunes and he is getting the maximum out of his squad.
Their win over Bandon was excellent as they fell behind early in the second half but two goals by Brendan Twomey were crucial, while the contributions of Tomas Hogan and Liam Gosnell were also important.
Ballyhea were equally impressive in their wins, especially over a highly rated Kanturk with an all round solid performance, even if at times there’s an over reliance on Pa O’Callaghan for scores. Hard one to call, but a nod to Carrigtowhill to win, narrowly.
The second game is equally intriguing as southside neighbours St Finbarr's and Bishopstown lock horns at 3.45pm.
Both sides had good wins to get to this stage and will relish the opportunity to end their neighbours' season, but who will it be?
Ronan Curran has the ‘Barrs playing a nice brand of hurling and they had an excellent workout against Ballygunner last weekend, with good quality players in Glenn O’Connor, Eoin Keane, Eoghan Finn, Damien and Conor Cahalane and Billy Hennessey.
They did struggle somewhat against Na Piarsaigh before getting the job done, but they will be confident entering this clash.
Bishopstown had an excellent win over Newtownshandrum in the first round and have built on that to keep their ambitions on track.
There is a nice mix of youth and experience in their side with Pa Cronin, Shane O’Neill, Diarmuid Lester, Ken O’Halloran and the combative O’Driscoll brothers all key players.
Local derbies take on a life off their own, but the ‘Barrs to shade it.
Unlike previous rounds, if level after 60 minutes, games at this stage of the championship will go to a replay.
Inniscarra have been the surprise packet of this championship with good wins in the last two rounds, notably against Mallow last time out, with influential displays from John O’Callaghan, Sean O’Donoghue and Colm Casey factors in their wins.
They face a tough test on Saturday in Riverstown at 3.30pm against a highly rated Castlelyons side who will of course be without Colm Spillane but can call on, among others, Colm Barry and Niall O’Leary and with a stronger balanced side they might win this one.
Valley Rovers and Blarney meet in Páirc Uí Rinn at 7.45pm and the latter, without a championship outing for a lengthy period, might find it hard to get to the pace early on, but with Mark Coleman, Joe Jordan, Declan O’Hanlon and a host of young players, they will be hard to beat.
The Innishannon side are very experienced, and with their football ambitions at an end, they will be keen to keep their season alive. Chris O’Leary, Noel O’Donovan and Jack Walsh are key men for them, but Blarney to prevail.
There is an East Cork derby in Midleton on Sunday at 2pm with Fr O’Neill’s, fresh from their comfortable win over Fermoy, hot favourites to get over Watergrasshill who will hope that Shane O’Regan can deliver a big game.
O’Neill’s, though, have quality all over the field especially in attack with Declan Dalton, Billy Dunne and Mark O’Keeffe all having an eye for goal.
They should and probably will win.
Carrigaline are in a rich vein of from right now and will be expected to maintain their winning sequence when they face Kilworth in Watergrasshill on Saturday, particularly if David Griffin and Wesley O’Brien play to the standards they have set in recent weeks.
Plenty of action in this grade with the majority of them on Saturday.
Lisgoold at 2pm is the venue for the meeting of St Catherine’s and Éire Óg who impressed in seeing off Mayfield last week, and with Daniel Goulding and Kevin Hallissey impressing, they will start as favourites and should justify that tag.
Douglas were good winners over Dripsey but might find another mid-Cork side, Aghabullogue, a tougher nut to crack in Ballincollig, while Cloughduv wil be fancied in their encounter with Meelin in Banteer.
There is one game with a relegation issue to resolve, it’s the meeting of Kilbrittain and Kildorrery in Donoughmore, with the latter favoured to survive, all these games at 3pm.
The one game on Sunday pits Argideen Rangers against Sarsfields in Brinny at 2pm, and with Sars' losing players to their senior team recently, the West Cork side should win.
There is also a host of games in the junior hurling and football championships so plenty on offer for supporters at this vital stage of the season.
The SE Systems Senior Championship moves up a gear with several big games down for decision with the board’s splendid pitch in Castle Road hosting most of them on Sunday.
First up is the Round 2 meeting of St Catherine's and Cloughduv at 12pm, Orla Cotter and Fiona Neville are key players for the East Cork side while Aoife Murray and Briege Corkery will anchor the Cloughduv challenge, but a nod to Catherine’s to win.
There’s an intriguing contest at 2.30pm between former champions Milford, who can call on the Watson sisters and Ashling Thompson, and an up and coming youthful Sars' team, but the experience of Milford gives them an edge.
The final game at the venue at 5.30pm is a Muskerry derby with champions Inniscarra facing neighbours Éire Óg who hammered Douglas in the last round.
This one is hard to call, but with Rena Buckley, Niamh McCarthy and Treasa McCarthy in good form, it may be enough to get them over the line.
Brinny at 5pm hosts the clash of Ballincollig, with Ashley Lovett and Linda Dorgan needing to be at their best, against a Carbery side that can call on Libby Coppinger and Orla Cronin, and with a strong panel at Carbery's disposal, they look better equipped to win.
There are also two junior finals in Castle Road on Saturday; in the C grade, Blarney meet Aghada at 2.30pm and this is followed at 5.30pm by the B decider, Ballinora vs Castlelyons.