Defining weekend in hurling championships
It’s the final round of games in all grades in the Co-Op Superstores Hurling Championship. For some clubs, their ambition is to avoid relegation, for others it’s a place in the knockout phase, while there are a few clubs who cannot qualify or be relegated.
Premier Senior Hurling - all games Sunday at 2pm
Group A - Glen Rovers v Newtownshandrum and Bishopstown v Douglas
Mourneabbey is the venue for the meeting of last year’s runners-up Glen Rovers and Newtownshandrum. It’s simple enough really, the winners will advance to the QF, and while the Glen will start as favourites, their form to date has been mixed and the Newtown lads will see this as a match they can win.
Jamie Coughlan and Tim O’Mahoney remain key players, while Glen will look to Patrick Horgan to steer them to victory and if he gets enough support from the likes of Robert Downey, Simon Kennefick, Liam Coughlan and Dean Brosnan, they should get the job done.
Douglas are already assured of progressing and with a host of quality players in their side who seem to be fulfilling their potential they should be too good for a struggling Bishopstown side in their clash in Ballygarvan.
Group B - Sarsfields v Midleton and Carrigtowhill v Na Piarsaigh
This group has panned out exactly as everyone expected with the East Cork duo of Midleton and Sars progressing and their meeting in Páirc Uí Rinn will determine who gets the one semi-final spot on offer.
Hard one to judge as they were both easy winners in their games to date and with quality players on both sides among them Daniel Kearney, Jack O’Connor, Luke Hackett, Conor Lehane, Paul Haughney and Luke O’Farrell, we should get a cracking encounter, and hard to call - a nudge to Sars though, just about.
Carrigtwohill and Na Piarsaigh head to Cobh for their clash where the losers will head into the relegation play-off. Both will need to show a big improvement on recent form; having seen them both play, I just feel that Carrig are that little bit better and might shade this one.
Group C - St Finbarrs v Blackrock and Charleville v Erin’s Own
The game of the round and possibly the weekend is the meeting of age old rivals the ‘Rockies and the ‘Barrs in Páirc Uí Chaoimh and here the equation is also simpl: winner takes all, losers out.
The champions were stunned by their first round loss to Erin’s Own but bounced back emphatically to easily defeat Charleville and Blackrock will not want to surrender their crown without a fight and expect big displays from the Cashman brothers, Alan Connolly, Tadgh Deasy and Daniel Meaney.
Barr’s were rocked by their failure to see out their clash with Erin’s Own and how they react could shape their season.
Theirs is a young side and they lack experience in some areas but they will hope that Damien Cahalane, Eoin Keane and Billy Hennessy can inspire the younger players and re-ignite their challenge.
Tough ask though and the odds favour the champions remaining on track to defend their title.
Ballyclough is the venue for the meeting of Erin’s Own on three points and Charleville who are pointless, so they need a win to avoid a relegation battle. The Caherlag lads will advance if they even get a draw here, but with Robbie O’Flynn in great form they looked well equipped to get the two on offer.
So when the dust settles the six to progress along with Imokilly, are Sarsfields (semi-final), Midleton, Douglas, Glen Rovers, Blackrock and Erin’s Own.
Senior A - all on Sunday at 4pm
Group A - Bandon v Blarney and Fermoy v Kanturk
A short trip out to Ballyanly for Blarney who are odds on to progress against a Bandon side who are out of contention and if Mark Coleman, Shane Barrett and Padraig Power play to form they should win.
Kanturk and Fermoy meet in Buttevant and a draw will suffice for the Duhallow lads to progress, but they look capable of getting the two on offer.
Group B - Ballyhea v Ballymartle and Bride Rovers v Mallow
Ballyhea are pointless and their clash with Ballymartle in Banteer should see the South-East side make the QF, but any slip up and should Mallow get the points in their game with unbeaten Bride Rovers in Kildorrery, it will make for an interesting conclusion.
Group C - Fr O’Neills v Cloyne and Killeagh v Newcestown
The all East Cork clash of Fr O’Neill’s and Cloyne look set to go the way of O’Neill’s as Cloyne have lost their two games to date and look destined for the relegation spot.
Killeagh and Newcestown head to Coachford with a lot to play for, as only one point separates these sides, but the odds are ever so slightly in Newcestown’s favour as their renowned battling qualities might just get them over the line.
To progress then, Blarney, Kanturk, Ballymartle, Bride Rovers, O’Neill’s and Newcestown.
Premier Intermediate - all games Saturday at 7.30pm
Group A - Carrigaline v Youghal and Courcey Rovers v Eire Og
Having recorded a great win over Eire Og in the last round, Carrigaline make the trip to Killeagh for a meeting with Youghal who have yet to win a game. Buoyed by their display last time out, Carrigaline will win and advance.
A lot at stake in the other game in Cloughduv as both Eire Og and Courcey’s are on two points, the dual involvement might just catch up on Eire Og and tilt the tie in Courcey’s direction.
Group B - Castlelyons v Inniscarra and Valley Rovers v Watergrasshill
Castlelyons are 2 for 2 and will be expected to make a clean sweep when they travel to Riverstown for their clash with Inniscarra who need to win if they are to progress.
Watergrasshill are out of contention which should give Valley Rovers the edge when they meet in Páirc Uí Rinn.
Group C - Ballincollig v Aghada and Kilworth v Ballinhassig
Ballinhassig are in pole position in this group having win their two games to date and they will head to Glantane for their meeting with Kilworth who can still qualify, and could really test the South-East side, while in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Ballincollig will need to beat pointless Aghada if they are to have any chance of progressing.
When the dust settles, Carrigaline, Courcey Rovers, Castleyons, Valley Rovers, Ballinhassig and Kilworth to make progress.
Intermediate A - all on Saturday at 4pm
There are a number of issues to be resolved in this grade; Castlemartyr and Mayfield are safely through and their game could decide the one semi-final spot up for grabs, Douglas and Blackrock are playing to avoid a relegation dog fight.
Sars are through in their group with the winners of the Dungourney v Aghabullogue game joining them.
It’s much tighter in the final group, Cloughduv and Kildorrery have 3 points each, the former play Meelin who are out of contention, so the Midleton v Kildorrery game is vital where a draw will do for Kildorrery, which means Midleton need to win to advance.
Lower Intermediate - all on Saturday at 2pm
Most issues in terms of making the play-offs are resolved and it is expected that Kilbrittain look set to get the semi-final berth, while Argideen Rangers v Dripsey will decide who joins them from that group. Tracton and Lisgoold are through from their group with the winners in with a chance of making the semi-final depending on results elsewhere. The ‘Barrs and Russell Rovers are meeting to avoid the relegation play-off.
Group C is a tight one; St Catherine’s are in pole position and also in control of their own destiny when they play Ballygarvan. The other game is Milford and Barryroe and here we will leave it in the lap of the gods to see who will progress, but if Milford win and Ballygarvan don’t, they will progress. Complicated I know, but it makes for an interesting afternoon!
SE Systems Senior Camogie QFs
With St Finbarr’s having received a bye into the last four, the three remaining quarter-finals will take place over the weekend.
It gets underway on Friday in CIT at 8pm when Killeagh play Inniscarra. Killeagh will now be without the USA-based Hannah Looney and that takes a key player out of the equation and now more responsibility will fall on Laura Treacy, Chloe Sigerson and Stephanie Beausang.
Inniscarra seem to be improving with every game and that bit of big match experience might see them edge this one.
Seandun are another team that seem to be improving with every outing and that could see them reverse their first round loss to St Catherines even with Laura Hayes and Finola Neville in good form when they meet in Castle Road on Sunday at 4pm.
The meeting of Sars and Courcey Rovers also in Castle Road on Saturday at 2.15pm could very well be the game of the round and even without Linda Collins, the champions could shade this one but they will need to keep Katlyn Sheehan in check considering she bagged 0-10 in Sars’ narrow win over Ballygarvan.
Ladies Football Championship
It’s another important weekend with crucial games in the round robin series of what is proving to be an intriguing championship.
There is a big local derby on Sunday in Killeagh at 11pm where Aghada who drew with Mourneabbey last week, will be expected to get the better of Inch Rovers.
Kinsale with home advantage will hope that Sabdh O’Leary and Orla Finn will steer them to a much needed win against St Vals at home on Sunday at 1pm.
Rathcormac at 4pm on Sunday is the venue for the meeting of Bride Rovers and Fermoy where the home side should win.
A crucial game in Ovens at 4pm, where Eire Og who are already qualified for the semi-final, could end Clonakilty’s interest in the championship.
Minor hurling finals
To round off an action packed few days a fascinating double-header in Páirc Uí Rinn on Monday night in the Premier 1 and 2 County Minor Hurling Finals.
The P2 decider has a 6.15pm start and it pits Killtha Og against Shandrum in what should be an intriguing encounter.
It’s a battle of the rovers in the P1 final at 8pm - Glen v Bride. It’s a first appearance for the latter at this level and they have proved in this championship that they will be a tough nut to crack and the manner in which they saw off the challenge of Ballincollig is testimony to that.
Louie Roche, Cillian Tobin and Adam Walsh are important players for a side that has former Cork star Brian Murphy among their coaching ticket.
Glen Rovers have a rich pedigree at this level and came through their group unbeaten and had a good win over the champions St Finbarr’s in a good contest last Saturday.
Stephen Lynam is a top class forward (1-6 from play in that win), Eoin O’Leary, Ben Heffernan, John Kirwan, Eoghan Varian and Rhys Dunne all impressed in the win over their great rivals. A close contest is anticipated, and a narrow win for Rovers, in this case Glen.