Football back with vital round 2 games
The Bon Secour’s Football Championship second round games this weekend carry huge importance especially for the teams that lost their opening games. It’s the opposite of course, for those that were successful as a second win will almost certainly guarantee them a place in the knockout stages.
Group A - St Finbarr’s v Carrigaline and Ballincollig v Clonakilty
Three of the four teams in this group were in hurling action last weekend with mixed results, and how that will impact on their preparation for these games will only become known as the games progress.
The ‘Barrs were very comfortable winners over a disappointing Ballincollig side who failed to score from play for over 40 minutes - a testimony to the vigilance and work rate of a St Finbarr’s team that were in control for long periods.
They will start this match as favourites and with Ian Maguire in good form expect them to have an edge in the middle of the park, while in Colm Barrett, Steven Sherlock, Sam Ryan, Cillian Myers Murray and Jamie Burns they have quality players and the introduction of Michael Shields helped them see out the game. Their dual players have had a tough couple of weeks, another incentive to put that disappointment behind them.
By contrast, Carrigaline’s hurling form has been excellent with two wins from two, but having lost to Clonakilty last time out, it’s hard to see them winning this one as they look to Kieran Kavanagh, David Griffin and Jack McCarthy to unhinge a solid ‘Barrs defence; however the ‘Barrs look set to secure the win.
Clonakilty’s twin threat from the Kingdom especially Dara O’Se, who scored 0-8, were key as they saw off Carrigline and they will need to be as good again against a Ballincollig side determined to get themselves back into contention. Ballincollig were poor in losing to the ‘Barrs and will need to show huge improvement of they are to win this one. The Whites - Sean and Mark, Tomas Clancy, David O’Regan and Maurice Shanley all impressed for Clonakilty, while Cian Dorgan and Cian Kiely battled hard for the Muskerry side.
Verdict: St Finbarrs and Clonakilty wins.
Group B - Castleahven v Newcestown and Carbery Rangers v Ilen Rovers
It’s first round winners versus first round losers in the all-West Cork group, so the table could have a very interesting look to it at the conclusion of this round of fixtures.
Castlehaven while happy with the win over ‘Ross in the last round were conscious that the opposition were short a few key players and they need to be better in this round. Newcestown are a dogged and determined side and while they lost in hurling last week they showed enough in their demolition of Ilen Rovers to suggest they can trouble any side, and they will relish the challenge of the ‘Haven.
Carthrach Keane, Michael McSweeney, Tadgh Twomey and Luke Meade were exceptional against Ilen and will test the ‘Haven, who apart from the Cahalane brothers' involvement with the ‘Barr’s hurlers, will be rested and refreshed. In the win over ‘Ross they looked impressive at times especially Michael and Brian Hurley and Mark Collins and if they deliver a consistent 60 minutes they should win.
The other all-West Cork clash is an intriguing affair as the losers will be out of the championship. ‘Ross played well in patches in their loss to the ‘Haven and if John O’Rourke and John Hayes are fit to play, it will be a huge boost, especially as James Fitzpatrick and Thomas O’Rourke were good against Castlehaven. Ilen were well beaten by Newcestown and how they react to the scale of that loss will shape the outcome of this contest but the odds favour a ‘Ross win.
Verdict: Wins for Castlehaven and Carbery Rangers.
Group C - Nemo Rangers v Bishopstown and Valley Rovers v Douglas
Like the hurlers of St Finbarrs, Bishopstown go into this game on the back of two defeats and an exit from that championship, and having lost to Douglas first time out, another loss here and their season is to all intents and purposes over, a situation they will be desperate to avoid.
Having to play the champions in a must win game is not ideal, but it also will give them a huge incentive, but will it be enough? Nemo were winners over Valleys but it was not without its difficulties and a lengthy injury list did not help, and that may have eased ahead of this clash.
Luke Connolly was in great scoring form last time and he has the capacity to trouble any defence, add in Paul Kerrigan, Colin O’Brien, Barry O’Driscoll and Conor O’Donovan and the depth of the squad is very evident. Bishopstown were poor in losing to Douglas, despite the best efforts of Ken O’Halloran, Jamie O’Sullivan and Brian O’Neill. It’s hard to see them getting the better of the champions.
Douglas even without the injured Sean Powter, who should return for this clash, were very assured in the win over Bishopstown, especially as the Hartnett brothers Niall and Brian were dominant in midfield providing a platform for a commanding performance. Liam Dineen, Conor Russell, Sean Wilson and Darragh Kelly all showed great industry and energy and looked sharp.
Valleys tested Nemo for periods, and were undone by Luke Connolly’s magic, and will be no pushover especially if Fiachra Lynch, David Lynch, Jack Walsh and the experienced Kevin Canty play to their undoubted potential. Douglas look better balanced and should prevail.
Verdict: Nemo Rangers and Douglas to win.
There are some interesting games in this championship notably the clash of O’Donovan Rossa and Ballingeary, with the former fancied, while St Michaels will be favoured to account for St Nick’s. Eire Og are motoring well in both codes and their clash will Mallow will be another test but with Daniel Goulding, Ciaran Sheehan and Ronan O’Toole doing well they should win.
Ruairi Deane might start for Bantry for their meeting with Kiskeam and that might tilt the tie their way. An interesting North Cork derby between Fermoy, who were impressive winners in their first round win over Doheny’s, and Clyda Rovers where the latter must win to retain an interest.
Bandon demolished Clyda last time out and will start as favourites, and should justify that tag for their all-West Cork tie against Dohenys.
Cill Na Martra will get a test from St Vincent’s who will look to the father and son combination of JP and Blake Murphy who were a bit unlucky to lose to Knocknagree in the first round, while the latter will be favoured to end Naomh Aban’s interest in the competition. A Duhallow derby with a lot at stake when Ballydesmond and Dromtarriffe meet in Boherbue, Adrigole had a good win in the first round but might find Mitchelstown a tougher nut to crack in this round. Two other games worth keeping an eye on the meeting of Nemo Rangers and Kanturk in Glantane, while Grenagh is the venue for the meeting of Aghada and Newmarket.
Divisional and colleges championship
After a long wait, the divisions and colleges finally make their appearance in the championship with just four in football and three in hurling participating.
In hurling, irrespective of what side they produce UCC will be expected to account for Duhallow, who must be commended for entering, when they meet in Mourneabbey next Tuesday night to set up a final meeting with champions Duhallow.
In football, both semi-finals are on next Wednesday night in Dunmanway. Duhallow will be favoured to get the better of Beara, while Cloughduv houses the meeting of Carbery and UCC with the West Cork Division fancied to win.
Three of the four semi-finalists in the Premier 1 C’ship have been decided; Glen Rovers and Sarsfields who meet in Riverstown have qualified from Group 2, while Midleton and Blackrock complete their schedule.
St Finbarrs are assured of top spot in Group 1 and will be expected to account for Ibane Gaels in Togher, while Douglas and Ballincollig meet in what is effectively a quarter-final to decide which side complete the line up.
A cracking game is in prospect with Ballincollig slight favourites.