Orlaith McGrath of Galway in action against Pamela Mackey. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Must-win games for some clubs this weekend

After just one round of games in the Co-Op Superstores County Hurling Championship, a number of clubs are already battling to save their season.

Among those in the top grade are the reigning champions Blackrock, runners-up Glen Rovers, Senior A winners Charleville, Na Piarsaigh and Carrigtowhill, making it a pivotal weekend for all these teams.

The group stages have been lauded by many, but this is the downside of the split season; two weeks in and it could all be over. Yes you will have one more game or two if you are in a relegation battle, but is it right that after months waiting to play meaningful games it could all be over in the space of 7 or 8 days?

On the back of their emphatic victory over Glen Rovers, Douglas are now in pole position and a win in this game at 4pm in Glantane on Saturday will secure their place in the knockouts.

The manner in which they dismissed the challenge of Glen Rovers will have filled them with confidence. Killian O’Donovan, Stephen Moylan, Brian Hartnett, Eoin Dolan and Shane Kingston were in top form.

Newtown were held to a draw by Bishopstown in a game many expected them to win, but the point could be invaluable. Conor Griffin, Mattie Ryan, Cormac O’Brien, Tim O’Mahoney and Jamie Coughlan will be key for the North Cork side, but the odds favour Douglas making it two from two.

Páirc Uí Rinn at 2pm on Saturday will house the clash of city rivals Glen Rovers and Bishopstown and how the Glen react to their heavy loss to Douglas could shape the outcome.

A return of just 1-10 over the hour is the lowest Glen have recorded in a long time and with Patrick Horgan getting 0-8, it is clear others need to step up to the plate. There is a lot of talent and good players in the team and with their backs to the wall, I expect a response especially from Robert Downey, Adam Lynch, Dave Dooling and Stephen McDonnell.

Bishopstown earned a well deserved point in their draw with Newtown, but the injury to the experienced Shane O’Neill is a blow. They will test the Blackpool side, but Glen to win.

The general expectation at the outset of this group was that the East Cork duo of Sars and Midleton would progress and this view was enhanced as they both recorded easy wins in their opening games and are on course for similar results this weekend.

On Friday night in Páirc Uí Rinn at 7.30pm, Midleton look to have too much firepower for Na Piarsaigh who could be without Daire Connery who left the field injured in the loss to Sars, while Conor Lehane, Tommy O’Connell, Paul Haughney and Luke O’Farrell should see Midleton collect the points on offer.

Sars racked up 2-28 in their demolition of Na Piarsaigh with Aaron Myers bagging 0-14, while Jack O’Connor, Daniel Kearney, James Sweeney and Cian Darcy carry too much quality against a Carrigtowhill side, who managed just 0-1 from play last time out. Sars to win and possibly with a bit to spare. It’s on Sunday at 2pm in Caherlag.

Erin’s Own sprang a surprise but well deserved win over reigning champions Blackrock. It has thrown this group wide open and the losers of the ‘Rockies v Charleville clash will be out of the championship, which makes for a fascinating encounter when they meet in Banteer on Saturday at 5.30pm.

Blackrock started slowly in their loss to Erin’s Own, rallied well and came up just short and they will look for a more consistent 60 minutes in this game, and also big games for their key men.

Charleville were blown away by the ‘Barrs and they too will look for a response but will they get it after the scale of their loss? The champions should get the win they crave and keep them in contention.

By the time the ‘Barr’s and Erin’s Own meet in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday at 7.30pm, the position in the group will be that bit clearer.

The wide open spaces of the ‘Park might suit Ronan Curran’s side with the Cahalane brothers, Brian Hayes and Bill Hennessey leading their challenge while the pace of Robbie O’Flynn will be key for Martin Bowen’s men who are always hard to beat. A nod to the ‘Barrs to secure their place in the knockout phase which would be a huge turnaround from their form last season.

As with the top grade, there are a number of intriguing encounters in this grade. Top of the bill is the meeting of Blarney and Kanturk in Mallow on Friday at 8pm. Both were impressive winners last week and there’s a host of quality players on duty: Shane Barrett, Mark Coleman and Padraig Power for Blarney with the Walshs and McLoughlins leading the Kanturk challenge who might just shade this one.

In the same group Bandon and Fermoy need a win to keep their season alive, a hesitant nod to Fermoy.

In Riverstown on Saturday at 4pm, Bride Rovers and Ballymartle collide and again both impressed last week, maybe the greater experience of the South-East side might get them over the line.

Mallow should to have too much in hand for their North Cork derby with Ballyhea who suffered a heavy defeat last week at the hands of Bride Rovers.

Killeagh were worthy winners over Cloyne in the first round but will need to be as good again and better if they are to get the better of Fr O’Neill’s in Youghal on Sunday at 2pm.

Newcestown almost get the better of O’Neill’s and will be strongly fancied to beat Cloyne in Ballyanly also at 2pm on Sunday.

It’s been a tough few days for the East Cork club with the untimely passing of their President Bunty Cahill. Sad though it was, the fact that he died after watching his beloved club play in the championship summed up his dedication to a club he served with distinction his entire life. Sincere sympathy to his family and club colleagues.

Aghada were well beaten last week and will hope to improve on that showing when they play Kilworth in Castlelyons on Saturday. The North Cork side picked up a point in their game and look well equipped to get both on this occasion.

Equally Ballinhassig hammered Aghada and while they will get a tougher test from Ballincollig in Brinny also on Saturday they should still win, both games at 2pm.

Eire Og are in a rich vein of form right now in both codes and will be confident of extending their winning run when they meet Carrigaline in Ballygarvan on Saturday at 4pm, while at 5.30pm in Páirc Uí Rinn Courcey Rovers should get the better of a struggling Youghal side.

Inniscarra came up just short last week to Valley Rovers and should get back on track against Watergrasshill in Grenagh at 4pm, while Valley Rovers and Castlelyons should deliver a cracker in Ballincollig at 5.30pm with a draw a distinct possibility - Saturday afternoon for these games.

Kildorrery v Meelin, Friday in Newtownshandrum at 7.30pm - Kildorrery to win.

Cloughduv v Midleton, Saturday in Ballinora at 2pm - Midleton to win.

Castlemartyr v Blackrock, Sunday in Cobh at 2pm - Castlemarytr to win

Glen Rovers v Aghabullogue, Sun in Ballicollig at 3pm-Aghabullogue to win.

Mayfield v Douglas, Sunday in St Vincents at 3pm - Mayfield to win.

Sarsfields v Dungouney, Sunday in Lisgoold at 5.30pm - Sarsfields to win.

St Catherine’s v Barryroe, Sunday in Ovens at 2pm - St Catherine’s to win.

Lisgoold v Russell Rovers, Sunday in Dungournet at 2pm - Lisgoold to win

Genagh v Argideen Rangers, Sunday in Cloughduv at 3pm - Argideen to win

Kilbrittain v Drispey, Sunday in Bandon at 3pm - Kilbrittain to win

Milford v Ballygarvan, Sun in Mourne Abbey at 3pm - Ballygarvan to win.

Tracton v St Finbarr’s, Sunday in Ballinhassig at 3pm - Tracton to win.

Following the disappointment of the loss in last Sunday’s All-Ireland Final, the majority of the Cork squad will be back in action immediately as the Senior Championship gets underway, in fact it actually started last night (Wednesday) when Milford played Sarsfields in Mallow, where the winners will play Newcestown in Ovens on Saturday at 2pm.

Castle Road on Saturday will be a hive of activity with three games down for decision. It gets underway at 1pm with Killeagh playing Cloughduv and with a trio of Cork stars in their side Laura Treacy, Hannah Looney and Chloe Sigerson, Killeagh should win.

At 3.15pm it’s Seandun against former champions St Catherine’s with the divisional side favoured to progress.

Imokilly meet Ballygarvan at 5pm and here the club side is fancied.

Coachford at 3pm is the venue for the meeting of the champions Courcey Rovers with Linda Collins, Fiona Keating and Saoirse McCarthy, they should make a winning start against Ballincollig.

Saturday at 5pm sees the all-divisional clash of Muskerry and Carbery go ahead in Riverstick.

Castle Road will once again be busy with three more games scheduled.

Douglas with the Mackey sisters and Julia White in their team will be expected to get the better of Enniskeane, while at 2.45pm it’s Inniscarra v St Finbarr’s and this should be a really interesting encounter between two very evenly matched sides.

The final game of a hectic weekend is the meeting of Eire Og and Glen Rovers at 5.30pm. Glen were recently crowned league champions and with Leanne O’Sullivan, Lydia Cunningham, Lauren Callanan and Katie Walsh in good form, they will be fancied to win.

Last Sunday was not to be for Cork in the All-Ireland Final but as always with this team they gave of their best but on the day, Galway were deserving winners - marginally it must be said.

It was a difficult week with the Orla Cronin case ongoing up until late Saturday night, but all credit to Manager Paudie Murray, he was adamant it was not a distraction and paid tribute to Orla for her contribution to the team in the build up and on the day itself, she was actually one of Cork’s best players which is testimony to her character.

How it was allowed drag on as long as it did does not reflect well on the Camogie Association and surely a system that allows for a quicker procedure should be put in place to avoid another player being put into a similar situation in the future.

Finally well done to the players on their effort there is surely an All-Ireland in the team and my thanks to the players and management for their co-operation all season, it was much appreciated.