Football dominates weekend’s action
For the first time since the championships began, there is action in both codes this weekend. Up to now the fixtures have concentrated on just one code, but at the business end of the season, the desire to complete the championships remains a priority.
Castlehaven’s big win over Ilen Rovers in the last round means that they have the weekend off as semi-finalists but will no doubt be keeping an eye on proceedings ahead of their next outing.
All three quarter-finals will take place on Sunday with Páirc Uí Rinn and Páirc Uí Chaoimh hosting the games.
First up are champions Nemo Rangers and Ballincollig in Páirc Uí Rinn at 2pm.
Nemo easily topped their group and looked set to gain the one semi-final spot on offer but events on the last day changed that.
Ballincollig lost their opening game but recovered and their win over Carrigaline, in a poor-quality game, got them through. They will know a big improvement will be required if they are to cause an upset.
The champions of 2014 have quality players in Cian Kiely, Liam Jennings and Cian Dorgan and Paddy Kelly still has a lot to offer and his vision and distribution is as good as ever.
In their three wins, Nemo have mixed the good with the very good and they still remain the team to beat with all their key players still making their presence felt.
Paul Kerrigan, Luke Connolly, Mark Cronin, Micheal Aodh Martin, John McDermott and Barry O’Driscoll will lead their challenge and they look set to win and march onto to the semi-final.
The attention then at 4pm switches to Páirc Uí Chaoimh for the meeting of St Finbarr’s and Newcestown. Hats off to the latter club for the manner in which they have approached both championships; with 13 players common to both teams they just go out and get on with the job and are to be commended for that.
The question though, will it take its toll? But winning is a habit and that will fill them with confidence ahead of what is going to be Newcestown’s biggest test to date.
That aside, they will approach this match like any other match believing they can win and Luke Meade, Cathrach and Fionn Keane, Tadgh Twomey and Michael McSweeney will give their best.
The ‘Barrs had impressive wins in their group and when tested by Clonakilty last time out, they responded in style to record a comfortable win.
Now that their hurling commitments are over it’s been a clear run for Paul O’Keeffe’s men and that will give them an edge against the dual commitments of their opponents.
Ian Maguire is a dominant figure for the Togher lads giving them an edge in midfield while Steven Sherlock and Killian Myers Murray have the capacity to trouble any defence. Sam Ryan, Glenn O’Connor and Colm Keane are as effective as ever in their respective roles.
Newcestown will, as they always do, give it their best but the odds favour the ‘Barrs progressing to a semi-final meeting with Castlehaven.
The third quarter-final is the meeting of Duhallow and Valley Rovers at 7pm in Páirc Uí Rinn, and here the divisional side will start as favourites but the involvement of several of their players with their clubs on Saturday will not help. It’s a situation they have faced before and coped with.
Valleys secured their premier hurling status last weekend and that will have given them a boost especially their dual players Jack Walsh, Chris O’Leary and Kevin Canty.
Duhallow really battled to beat a good UCC in the last round and will be determined to maintain their consistency of recent years.
Mark Ellis, Jerry O’Connor, Seamus Hickey, Eoghan McSweeney, Donnacha O’Connor, Conor O’Callaghan and Paul Walsh are quality players and even with players in action on Saturday, they look better equipped to make it to a semi-final meeting with Nemo Rangers.
The meeting of St Michaels and Éire Óg has the makings of a cracking contest between two high quality sides. The presence of Daniel Goulding in the Mid-Cork side’s attack is a plus but Ciarán Sheehan is doubtful with an injury - a slight fancy for St Michaels in this one.
Mallow and Bandon meet in Coachford, and with their hurling commitments ending two weeks ago and with James Loughrey, Mattie Taylor and Cian O’Riordan in good form, a nod to Mallow to win.
Despite getting a real hammering from Cill Na Martra in the last round, Knocknagree still advanced but manager John Fintan Daly has a huge task on his hands to revitalise a group of players that have been on the go for the best part of two years.
If he can achieve that they might get the better of Nemo who lost a couple of players to their senior team following their dramatic result against Macroom, but you write off any Nemo team at your peril and they are capable of winning.
Kanturk have been very busy on the double in recent weeks and that might be a factor in their game with Aghada, giving the East Cork side a crucial edge.
A North Cork derby between Kilshanning and Glanworth where the O’Hanlon brothers, Killian and Eanna, should guide Kilshanning to the last four.
Equally Millstreet should be too strong for Aghabullogue.
Kinsale pulled off a big and important win in the last round but might find Mitchelstown a tougher nut to crack and it’s the North Cork lads who should win, while the meeting of Ballinora and Rockchapel is hard to call but a nod to the Duhallow lads.
Premier Intermediate Hurling
After their heroics against Ballincollig, Blarney are back in Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday with Carrigaline who had an excellent group phase providing the opposition. The manner in which Blarney won will fill them with confidence; the fact that three of their players lined out with UCC on Sunday night could be a concern though. However Mark Coleman is a pivotal figure for them and they might have enough to shade this one.
Castlelyons have long been considered one of the favourites for this championship and they have done everything right so far. But they leaked a lot of scores to Inniscarra in the last game and that might be a concern, but in the Spillanes and the Barrys they have top class players.
Courceys have really re-ignited their season with the win over Aghada and followed that by putting Watergrasshill to the sword. You still have to fancy Castlelyons but if they are below par they could pay the ultimate price.
The second semi-final of the SE Systems Senior Championship goes ahead on Saturday in Castle Road at 2pm with Inniscarra facing St Finbarr’s.
Inniscarra got the better of Glen Rovers after a dour battle but with it being the first game in six weeks, they were bound to a be a little bit rusty and the game might actually stand to them.
They have very experienced players in Rena Buckley, Niamh Dilworth, Joanne Casey and Treasa McCarthy who know how to win tight games.
The ‘Barrs have also impressed in their wins to date and in Gemma O’Connor they have a real leader with good support from Keeva McCarthy, Eimear Ryan, Ciara Hurley and Ashling Shannon.
It should be a lively contest between two very committed teams, and maybe the knowhow that the former champions Inniscarra possess might be enough to get them over the line.
On Sunday, it’s the intermediate final at 4pm with Enniskeane meeting Aghabullogue. Both sides have impressed in their march to this decider and with very little between two evenly matched teams, it’s a toss of a coin. A hesitant vote to Aghabullogue.