Football takes centre stage
After the excitement of the hurling championship for the last two weeks, it’s the Bon Secour Football Championship that will dominate this weekend and it’s a pivotal few days for those that lost first time out. For the dual clubs, it will be a fourth game in a row which will test the depth of the squads especially when you factor in injuries.
Premier Senior Football
Group A: Nemo Rangers v Carrigaline and Valley Rovers v Douglas
The champions opening day defeat to Valley Rovers has thrown this group wide open but Nemo do know how to get on with the next game. It’s 5.30pm on Saturday in Páirc Uí Rinn and knowing nothing but a win will suffice, they will be ready for this game.
While not taking away in any way from Valley’s win, having to play a first round game six days after winning the 2020 County Final was always going to be a big ask - they will be much more focussed this time. Luke Connolly, Paul Kerrigan, Miceal Aodh Martin and the Cronins will once again be key for the champions, it’s hard to see Carrigaline winning this one.
The Carrigaline club will host the clash of the two first round winners Douglas and Valley Rovers on Saturday at 2pm. Douglas were comfortable for long periods in their win over Carrigaline and with their hurlers safely into the knockout phase, they will be keen to join them with a game to spare. However Valleys will be in confident mood after their win and will see this as an opportunity to progress, but this will be another test.
There are quality players on both sides; Brian Hartnett, Sean Powter, Brian Canty and if fit Fiachra Lynch which should make for a cracking contest and a nod to Douglas to shade it.
Group B: Castlehaven v Eire Og and Newcestown v Carbery Rangers
Enniskeane on Saturday at 2pm house the meeting of two sides that experienced mixed fortunes in county finals recently.
Eire Og won theirs to gain promotion to the top grade, while Castlehaven lost a tight encounter to Nemo Rangers. It’s to the ‘Haven’s credit that they bounced back immediately to win their opening game, as did Eire Og with a resounding win over Carbery Rangers.
With the exception of the Cahalane brothers, Castlehaven will have had two full weeks to prepare, while Eire Og were involved in hurling in the same time, but they have coped with this is the past and will enjoy the challenge.
Daniel Goulding, Ronan O’Toole and John Cooper remain key men for Eire Og while as ever Mark Collins, Brian and Michael Hurley and the aforementioned Cahalanes will drive the West Cork side to victory.
Having lost their opening games, when Newcestown and Carbery Rangers meet in Clonakilty on Sunday at 2pm, they will know a win is needed. Ross would appear to be in transition and Newcestown are one of the most competitive teams around and that might be enough to get them over the line.
Group C: Ilen Rovers v St Finbarr’s and Clonakilty v Ballincollig
The ‘Barrs were coasting first time out against Ballincollig but in the end were narrow winners and that fright will focus the mind for the 60 minutes this time round, but unlike Ilen, they have had hurling to contend with in recent weeks.
However a fit Ian Maguire will bring stability; add in Brian Hayes, Sam Ryan, Michael Shields and Cillian Myers Murray and they look better equipped to win in Ballinscarthy on Saturday at 4pm.
Ballincollig will look to how they battled in their loss to the ‘Barrs as a starting point for their meeting with Clonakilty in Newcestown on Saturday at 5.30pm - this could be a really close contest between two fairly evenly matched teams.
Clon have two points in the bag already and with the Whites and Tomas Clancy playing well, they will fancy their chances. Ballincollig improved when Paddy Kelly was introduced in the ‘Barr’s game and that might tempt them to start him for this game. Hard to call this one, it might even be a draw.
Some intriguing games in this very competitive championship, with several clubs fighting for survival.
St Michael’s impressed in their win over Bishopstown and with a very balanced side they will be fancied to get the better of Kiskeam.
Knocknagree easily defeated Kiskeam in their opener and despite a lengthy injury list, John Fintan Daly - a possible contender for the vacant Cork senior job - will have his charges well primed for their clash with Bishopstown who unless they show considerable improvement will find the Duhallow lads hard to beat.
Big North Cork derby in Glantane between neighbours and keen rivals Clyda Rovers and Mallow; hard to call this one, a draw maybe, while in the other game in this group Fermoy should get the better of Bantry who will be without the suspended Ruairi Deane.
A West Cork derby between O’Donovan Rossa and Dohenys but the Skibb lads should prevail, while Ballingeary might just get the better of Bandon but with their hurling interest now over, that will give them extra motivation.
Naomh Aban had a win over Macroom in their opener and will be expected to make it two from two against St Nick’s, similarly Kanturk will be favoured to beat Macroom.
Cill Na Martra are enjoying a good run and should extend that with a win over Rockchapel, while the all-city clash in Rathpeacon between Nemo Rangers and St Vincents will be interesting as the losers will exit the championship and the odds slightly in favour of the ‘Saints.
Newmarket will be fancied to get the better of Na Piarsaigh while Aghada who are out of the hurling will not want to exit both championship in succession and that might give them an edge against Castletownbere.
Adrigole v Glanworth - Adrigole to win.
Kilsahnnig v Glenville - Kilsahnnig to win.
St Finbarrs v Kinsale - Kinsale to win.
Mitchelstown v Glanmire - Glanmire to win.
Kildorrery v Aghabullogue - Aghabullogue to win.
Milstreet v Iveleary - draw.
Gabriel Rgs v Ballydesmond - Gabriel Rangers to win.
Dromtarriffe v Ballinora - Ballinora to win.
Minor Football semi-final
An important weekend for these lads with the last four in Premier I and 2 down for decision and having topped their respective groups, home advantage will be a factor.
On Saturday the Premier 1 semi-finals are both on at 1pm. Trabeg will host the clash of Nemo Rangers and St Michael’s while Togher is the venue for the meeting of St Finbarr’s and Ballincollig, what are the odds of a Nemo v Barr’s Final?
In Premier 2, it’s Eire Og v Kinsale in Ovens at 5pm, while on Tuesday at 7.45pm in Glantane, it’s Bishopstown v Killshannig. Eire Og and the ‘Town fancied..
After a hectic weekend of first round games, the focus now switches to the losers round in the SE Systems Senior Championship with five games scheduled.
On Saturday in Ballygarvan at 3.30pm, Douglas will be slight favourites to defeat Ballincollig, while Coachford at 2pm is where Eire Og will look to bounce back from their heavy loss to Glen Rovers and might just edge Milford. At the same time in Clougduv, Inniscarra should be too strong for their own divisional side Muskerry.
Cloughduv will play Imokilly in Castle Road (to be confirmed) also on Saturday at 5.15pm.
The remaining game is on Sunday in Castle Road at 5.15pm, and here Seandun even with the injury doubt surrounding Amy O’Connor should beat Newcestown.
It’s the second round games in the round robin phase of the Senior Championship and last week there was a number of one sided encounters. All games are on Sunday and last year’s champions West Cork are not allowed by LF rules nationally to defend their title, which makes former champions Mourneabbey strong favourites to win a championship they have dominated in recent years.
That said their clash with Bride Rovers at 1pm in Rathcormac should be lively as the Rovers racked up a huge score in their opening round.
St Vals will have home advantage for their clash, 1pm start also, with Eire Og but the latter should prevail.
Newly promoted Clonakilty welcome Kinsale with Sadbh O’Leary and Orla Finn in their side to the West Cork venue at 4pm, while at the same time Fermoy will play hosts to Inch Rovers and both these games should be close encounters.
With the clubs taking a well earned break after this weekend, the divisional sides will enter their phase of the championship and with small numbers entering it will conclude by the following weekend with the respective winners advancing to the quarter-finals of the Premier Senior Championship later in October.
Páirc Uí Rinn is the venue for both play-off games, on Tuesday at 7.30pm it’s the hurling clash of UCC and Imokilly, a repeat of last year’s meeting in which the students ended Imokilly’s four in a row bid. They might repeat that feat depending the availability of players, and that would set up a final with Seandun.
The football play-off is on Wednesday also at 7.30pm and again UCC are involved. This time Muskerry provide the opposition and the odds favour another student win, Duhallow await the winners.
The finals will be a double-header in Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday, with the hurling at 6pm followed by the football decider at 7.45pm.
Pat Ryan steps down
A short few weeks after winning back to back All-Ireland Under 20 hurling titles, Pat Ryan has stepped down as manager of the Cork team.
The Sarsfields man enjoyed a great run and the quality of hurling his teams produced was a pleasure to watch and with a strong backroom team they lifted the spirits of the county on a bitterly cold 23 December in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in 2020 defeating Tipperary in the Munster Final.
Despite the long delay and then the Covid situation, they stuck to their task and the wins over Dublin and Galway in the All-Ireland Finals, ended a long wait for success at this important grade.
Pat has a lot to offer Cork hurling and let’s hope we will see him back on the sideline in the near future, but for now the grateful thanks of a county for his work over the last few years.