Another action packed weekend of GAA coming up
As we are the business end of the season, every game now takes on added significance and this weekend is no exception, with semi-finals in various grades down for decision.
Bon Secours Premier Senior Football semi-finals on Sunday in Páirc Uí Chaoimh
Douglas v Clonakilty at 1pm
Having gone direct to this stage following their first ever senior championship win over champions Nemo Rangers knocking them out, Douglas will really fancy their chances of reaching the decider, but Clonakilty will be buoyed by their come from behind win over Duhallow in the quarter-final.
Douglas manager Ray Keating will be pleased at their displays but knows full well their season will be judged on Sunday’s result - if you knock out the champions but then don’t make the final, that would be considered a blow.
There is a nice balance to their team, with Sean Powter, Daniel Harte - whose goal delivered the fatal blow to Nemo, and Sean Wilson anchoring a solid defence, with Brian and Niall Hartnett from an effective midfield partnership.
The attack has yet to fire fully even Conor Russell, their main scorer from placed balls, Alan O’Hare is busy but they need a better return form this unit.
Clonakilty looked in real trouble against Duhallow, but they produced a stunning last quarter, kicking 7 unanswered points to get over the line.
Joe Grimes and Dara O’Se have been the key men for the team from the Brewery town, with Sean White, Liam O’Donovan, Ross Mannix, Eoghan Deasy, and goalkeeper Mark White whose ventures up field add a new and sometimes dangerous dimension to Clon’s game.
Football in Douglas is really on a high right now with their Junior A side in the county semi-final, while their B team are also on the county trail and momentum can be a big help.
The West Cork side have been improving with every outing and their tradition at this level of competition will give them the confidence required to win, and while Douglas will start as favourites, unless the attack delivers a better scoring return they won’t win.
St Finbarr’s v Castlehaven at 3pm
Their last meeting in the championship was ironically enough at the very same stage last year and what drama that game produced! It was eventually decided on penalties after 60 minutes plus extra-time could not separate two evenly balanced sides, with Mark Collins hitting the decisive penalty.
Two weeks ago when they looked in trouble against Valley Rovers, the very same Mark Collins hit another crucial goal as the ‘Haven showed all their experience and composure with an excellent second half display.
The fact that they lost the 2020 county final a few weeks ago would appear to have galvanised them and they are playing nice measured football and look sharp.
Michael and Brian Hurley are as dangerous as ever, while the Cahalane brothers Damien, Jack and Conor can and are very effective, throw in Anthony Seymour, Cathal Maguire and Collins, and there is a serious look to their team.
Equally the ‘Barr’s looked in trouble early on against Eire Og but the manner in which they took control and confined the Muskerry side to just 0-5 for over 45 minutes is testimony to the determination within the group, even with 14 men for the last 20 minutes.
Ian Maguire remains the driving force in this team and his display that night was key to victory as was the scoring contribution of Steven Sherlock, Brian Hayes’ availability is a boost, Cillian Myers Murray could also return from injury, while Edna Dennehy, Sam Ryan, Colm Barrett and Alan O’Connor are key players for the ‘Barrs.
Of course the fact that the Cahalanes hurl with St Finbarr’s adds another ingredient to what has the makings of a fascinating and intriguing contest, that could very well go the same way as their last meeting, this time though I have a slight fancy for the ‘Barrs to shade it.
Senior A Hurling
Bride Rovers v Fr O’Neill’s on Saturday in Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 1pm
This all-East Cork clash has the makings of a cracking contest and while many expected Blarney to be in the shake up, the manner in which the Rathcormac lad’s went about their business that night has them rightly as genuine contenders for this title.
O’Neill’s went direct to the semi-final and the lack of match practise might be a worry but with a few lads carrying injuries, with Declan Dalton now considered a major doubt owing to an ankle injury picked up in training, they will have had time to get them primed and ready for what will be a stiff test.
By contrast Bride had football commitments last weekend with a lot of dual players involved but their attitude has been the next game is the most important and the spirit and determination they bring to every game will stand to them.
There are quality players on both teams, Brian and Eoin Roche, William Finnegan, Shane O’Connor, Jason Pratt for Bride Rovers, while O’Neill’s will look to Declan Dalton if fit, Paudie McMahon, Joe Mellerick, Mark O’Keeffe and Jason Hankard to steer last year’s runners-up into the final.
Close one, O’Neill’s are an experienced outfit, but if Dalton and Ger Mellerick are out, the odds swing ever so slightly to Bride Rovers.
Premier Intermediate hurling semi-final
Courcey Rovers v Valley Rovers on Saturday in Páirc Uí Rinn at 1pm
Courcey Rovers have enjoyed an excellent campaign and their win over Eire Og last time out secured a semi-final spot and with divisional rivals Valleys in the opposite corner, there will be no lack of motivation from either side and having exited the football championship two weeks ago, the Innishannon lads will be full focused for this game.
Coach Sean Guiheen will know full well that only a consistent 60 minutes will suffice and he will hope that Sean Twomey, Richard Sweetman, Olan Crowley, Stephen Nyhan, Tadgh O’Sullivan and Liam Collins can provide that.
With a full two weeks of hurling behind them, Valleys will test their neighbours and have seasoned campaigners in Cormac Desmond, William Hurley, Misko Savic, Kevin Canty, Colm Butler and Adam Kenneally and how they perform could shape the outcome of this contest.
Crucial though Valley’s will be without Chris O’Leary, he picked up a red-card in the narrow win over Kilworth, and his absence might be the difference between winning and losing such is his value to the team, that said they coped admirably for the 50 minutes he was absent in the quarter-final and if they play as well again they could make the final.
Senior A Football semi-finals on Saturday at Páirc Uí Chaoimh
St Michaels v Doheny’s at 5pm
St Michael’s who have endured defeat in a number of finals in the last number of years posted their intent when they comfortably beat a highly rated Knocknagree to secure this last four spot with 3 wins from 3 in their group.
On that day and throughout the campaign Owen O’Sullivan, Joe Golden, Eoin De Burca, Eoghan Buckley and Eric Hegarty have performed admirably and add Tadgh Deasy into the mix and they will be a tough nut to crack.
As for Doheny’s, they also showed their resolve with excellent wins over Bandon in the group and them comfortably saw off Knocknagree in the quarter-final with Fionn Herlihy, Keith White, Mark Buckley 1-5 in the last game, Stephen Daly, Johnny Kelly and Niall Hurley impressing.
This could go the distance - Doheny’s have momentum and energised by recent wins could be the deciding factor.
Mallow v Ballingeary at 6.45pm
Runners-up in the 2020 championship, it’s to Mallow’s credit that they have dusted themselves down and are within 60 minutes of making this year’s final, even without the retired duo of Cian O’Riordan and newly appointed Cork selector James Loughrey.
Ballingeary battled their way through to last four thanks to a big win over Clyda Rovers with Matt Reardon, Darren O’Neill, Ben Shorten and the very experienced Andrew Concannon impressing, while Mallow can call on Mattie Taylor, Shane Merritt, Darragh Moynihan and Eoin Staunton and look better equipped to make it to the final for the second year in a row.
Premier Intermediate semi-finals
Kanturk are already into the Senior A Hurling final and will look to keep their double aspirations on track when they play Aghada who will look to rebound from their relegation in hurling last week, buoyed by their win over Nemo Rangers in the quarter-final.
A busy schedule and a mounting injury list might be a concern for Kanturk but with Aidan, Alan and Paul Walsh, John McLoughlin and Liam O’Keeffe playing well, they should prevail in Mourneabbey on Saturday at 3pm.
At the same time, Glantane is the venue for the second semi-final between Cill Na Martra and Newmarket and with veteran Noel O’Leary still playing as well as ever, the Gaelthacht club are favoured to make the final.
The first of the Intermediate semi-finals is also on Saturday with last year’s junior champions Iveleary enjoying life at this level and when they face Muskerry rivals Aghabullogue they will fancy their chances of maintaining their winning run and could very well do so in Kilmurry on Saturday at 3pm.
Rosscarbery on Saturday at 3pm is a huge relegation battle in Premier Senior Football with Ilen Rovers playing Carrigaline, the latter shipping some heavy defeats in the group satges where Ilen performed that bit better and that might give them the edge to retain their status.
County Junior Championships
Douglas v Ballinhassig and Boherbue v Urhan - Douglas and Boherbue to win.
Passage v Ballygiblin and Dromtarriffe v St Ita’s - Passage and Dromtarriffe to win.
Historic night for Ladies Football
On Friday night under lights, the first ever Senior Ladies Football County final in Páirc Uí Chaoimh will take place with Mourneabbey meeting Eire Og at 7.45pm.
The Mourneabbey side have been the dominant team not only in Cork but in Munster in recent years and it took a combination of several clubs under the guise of West Cork to beat them last year, and they will be keen to win back the title.
Even without the injured Ciara O’Sullivan, Mourneabbey look to be too strong for what is an emerging Eire Og side, whose turn to win the title will probably come, but not on this occasion.