Mens' clubs pause while womens' continue apace
After four weeks of intense activity for clubs, they will be glad of the break to recharge the batteries, tidy up the knocks and bruises, before heading into the defining weekend of games in a couple of weeks' time.
For some, their championship ambitions are over. For hurling clubs that happened in the space of seven days, while for the football clubs their interest lasted that big longer but still ended after two games.
The hectic few weeks have been particularly difficult on dual clubs, of which there are many throughout the county, with some players playing four weeks in a row; the current structure is favoured by many, but in my opinion it will need looking at going forward.
Is it right that our flagship championship are crammed into a tight schedule at the end of the season, with pitches and weather deteriorating?
I accept that the last two years have been difficult in terms of scheduling games, hopefully with a full season to look forward to in 2022, the games can be structured in a way that the dual clubs can be given ample time to prepare properly for both codes.
For those out of contention, the focus will switch to try and avoid been dragged into a relegation play-off, which will make for an interesting final round of games.
Divisional and colleges finals
Both of these will go ahead on Sunday - the hurling final pits Imokilly against Seandun in Páirc Uí Rinn at 6pm.
Imokilly have the benefit of an excellent win over UCC on Tuesday last where they gained a measure of revenge for their defeat at the same stage last year, which ended their bid for a four in a row.
Seandun had an easy win over Muskerry but given that this game was played back in July, it will count for very little apart from the confidence gained in the display which was very efficient.
In the interim the focus has been very much on the clubs but they did put in a lot of work prior to that and it may help them.
Mayfield players will probably backbone their team and they do have the very experienced Justin McCarthy as coach and that will be a big help. However looking at the quality in the Imokilly side, Seamus Harnedy, Anthony Spillane, Brian Lawton, Kieran Histon and Shane O’Regan they look better equipped to win and advance to the quarter-final of the championship proper as seventh seeds and could prove a handful for any side, depending of course on the progress of the clubs in their respective championships.
Duhallow are in the football final and will play either UCC or Muskerry who met last night (Wednesday). If it’s Muskerry, it goes ahead in Macroom at 3pm, while if it’s UCC, Páirc Uí Rinn is the venue at 7.45pm.
Duhallow have been very strong at this level in recent years and only lost to champions Nemo Rangers by a point, a late one at that, in last year’s semi-final, but the fact that the Knocknagree players are no longer available will limit their options, but they still look good enough to win.
Minor Hurling Championship Semi-finals
There are two very attractive last four games on Saturday and the same format as last year applies with the respective group winners enjoying home advantage.
First up at 1pm in the Glen Field, it’s age old rivals the Glen and the ‘Barr’s, a repeat of last year’s semi-final in Togher in which the ‘Barr’s emerged winners after a cracking game on the way to winning the title in style.
Glen Rovers are the only team to remain unbeaten in the group phase and really dug out a great win over Ballincollig in the last game and that will give them a confidence boost ahead of this tie.
Both sides had key players on the Cork team that easily won the All-Ireland title; Ben O’Connor, William Buckley and panel member Shane Kennedy from the ‘Barr’s, while Glen’s Eoin O’Leary also made and scored some important scores.
Home advantage could help and if Stephen Lynam, John Kirwan and Eoin Varian play to form they could end the champion’s reign, but as with all games between these sides, it will go the distance similar to last year’s encounter.
Rathcormac at 2pm will see Bride Rovers with a highly rated side taking on Ballincollig who were beaten in the football semi-final last weekend and will be keen to avoid another last four loss, but the odds favour the Rovers making the decider.
SE Systems Senior Camogie Championship
It’s a huge weekend with seven games scheduled and some cracking ones in prospect, starting with tonight’s (Thursday) clash of Killeagh and Douglas in CIT at 8pm.
After a first round loss, Douglas impressed in their win over Ballincollig with the Mackey sisters key players for them. Killeagh though are backboned by a trio of Cork stars Laura Traecy, Chloe Sigerson and Hannah Looney and this gives them the edge.
Saturday is action-packed with doubles headers at two venues. At 2.15pm in Castle Road, it’s Ballygarvan renowned championship battlers and champions of two years ago Sarsfields, a hard one to call - a slight nod to the more experienced Ballygarvan girls.
Glen Rovers v St Finbarrs is the second game at HQ with a 4.45pm start. Glen are league champions and easily saw off Eire Og in the opening round but this will be a much tougher test and they will look to Lydia Cunningham, Leanne O’Sullivan, Lauren Callanan and Katie Walsh to maintain their good form against a ‘Barr’s led by Gemma O’Connor. This game is actually a quarter-final because by the quirk of the draw, the winners got a bye into the semi-final and added incentive for two evenly matched teams.
In Brinny at 2.30pm, Eire Og face Seadun. Eire Og recovered from their 1st round loss and impressed in beating Milford while Seandun bounced back as well and might have a bit more in attack to win this one.
Champions Courcey Rovers - even without the travelling Linda Collins - should get the better of Cloughduv in a game that starts at 4.30pm.
Enniskeane who hit 0-23 in their 1st round look too strong for Inniscarra when they meet in Coachford at 4.30pm.
The final game of the weekend in the Senior Championship is back in Castle Road on Sunday at midday where St Catherine’s will be fancied to defeat divisional side Carbery.
Ladies Football Championship
It’s all set for another round of games in this championship and if form and scoring power is any guide, then Mourneabbey look very like the team to beat. They will be expected to continue their winning run on Sunday at 4pm when Aghada with Hannah Looney in their side, visit the North Cork venue.
Clonakilty will look to bounce back from their loss last week when they travel to play St Vals on Sunday at 1pm, they need a win to boost their chances of advancing and they might just get it.
The game of this round could very well be the meeting of Eire Og and Kinsale in Ovens on Sunday at 4pm; both are in good form and with quality players on view, it’s easy to see why it could be a close one - a slight nod to Kinsale in this one.
Off the field, the big news is that Shane Roynane is to be the new Manager of the Cork senior team with a three year term.
The Mitchelstown native comes with an impressive CV in the game, guiding Mourneabbey to six county and Munster club titles in a row and back to back All-Ireland Club titles in 2018/2019, while at inter-county level, he brought success to Tipperary in the Intermediate C’ship.
Shane’s most recent position was with the Waterford Senior Football team having been appointed in January, but it’s easy to see why the lure of the Cork job was too good to turn down.
Dublin stood in Cork’s way for the last number of years, that is until Meath beat them in the semi-final. The fact that the Royal ladies went on to break Dublin’s dominance may have softened the blow somewhat.
Cork are still one of the main contenders for All-Ireland glory and with a string of underage titles won in the last number of years, there is no doubt the talent is there, Shane’s job now is to harness that and blend it in with the very experienced and quality players still available to him and him selector’s, we wish him the best in his new role.
Shane takes over from Ephie Fitzgerald who enjoyed plenty of good days in the job including winning an All-Ireland title in his first year. He was a pleasure to deal with at all times in victory or defeat and my thanks for his help and co-operation during his term in charge.