Cork’s Amy O’Connor celebrates scoring her third goal in the win over Waterford in the 2023 Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship Final. Photo: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Must-win clashes for several clubs in hurling

Come 6pm on Sunday, a number of clubs could have their Co-Op Superstores Championship ambitions ended for another year, especially those that suffered 1st round defeats last weekend.

That is the one drawback of the current structure - 2 defeats in 6/7 days and it’s all over. As Charleville Manager Mark Foley said after their draw with Fr O’Neill’s, it’s a “microwave” championship. Some big names on the edge include Glen Rovers, Erin’s Own and Newtownshandrum in Premier Senior; Na Piarsaigh, Mallow and Blarney in Senior A and Castlemartyr and Ballincollig in Premier Intermediate - all these clubs suffered 1st round defeats.

Premier Senior

Group A

Bishopstown v Blackrock on Saturday in Páirc Uí Rinn at 3pm

Glen Rovers v Midleton on Sunday in Carrigtwohill at 3pm

Blackrock’s comfortable win over Glen Rovers last Friday night has put them in pole position to secure qualification, especially if they can and they probably will beat Bishopstown who struggled for long periods in their loss to Midleton.

Robbie Cotter, John and Niall Cashman, Daniel Meaney, Mark O’Keeffe and Alan Connolly when introduced were key players for the ‘Rockies as they dominated the 2nd half and their response to Glen taking the lead was emphatic.

Bishopstown are without a number of big players and while Paul Honohan and Brian Murray played well, the overall strength of this Blackrock team make them look well equipped to make it two from two.

For the 3rd year in a row, Glen suffered a 1st round defeat. On the previous two occasions, they bounced back and secured qualification from the group.

This time they face a Midleton side buoyed their easy win over Bishopstown and the possibility that Sean O’Leary Hayes could play having featured with the Intermediate team on his return from Boston late last week.

Conor Lehane, Luke O’Farrell, Paul Connaughton, Cormac Beausang and Tommy O’Connell all impressed and a win would almost guarantee progression. Goalkeeper Bryan Rossiter picked up an injury and with Brion Saunderson still suspended, they are down to their 3rd choice custodian.

Glen were very disappointed with their overall performance and manager Richie Kelleher will demand a big response. As ever Patrick Horgan top scored, Dean Brosnan hit some neat points but a better return is required, while the experience of Steven McDonnell, Robert and Eoin Downey will be important.

It’s a must win game, and in the past they have not be found wanting and I expect them to get the desired result.

Group B

Fr O’Neill’s v Douglas on Saturday in Páirc Uí Rinn at 5pm

Charleville v Erin’s Own on Sunday in Mallow at 4pm

It’s a bit tighter in this group as O’Neill’s and Charleville played out an exciting draw last week and the game in Páirc Uí Rinn has the potential to be a cracker.

Douglas always looked in control against Erin’s Own with Shane Kingston in top form and his goal allowed eventually put daylight between the teams. Alan Cadogan, Mark Harrington and Cillian O’Donovan also impressed and clipped over a couple of nice points.

Deccie Dalton was excellent for O’Neill’s with Billy Dunne, the Millericks and Jason Hankard all playing well on their debut at this level, they will need to be as good again if they are to record a win that would keep them in contention.

Darragh Fitzgibbon is a huge injury concern for Charleville, and his loss would be immense, but they still look strong with Danny O’Flynn, Jack Doyle and Andrew Cagney all making contributions.

Erin’s Own will be without the suspended Kieran Murphy and it looks as if the replacements are getting thin on the ground. They should not be written off, but the odds favour a younger North Cork side getting the win.

Group C

St Finbarr’s v Sarsfields on Friday at Páirc Uí Rinn at 7.30pm

Kanturk v Newtownshandrum on Saturday in Charleville on Saturday at 3pm

There’s a real tasty looking encounter on Friday - a repeat of their meeting last year in which the ‘Barrs’ won comfortably to end Sars’ championship hopes at the group stage. Can they repeat that feat?

Sars’ draw with Kanturk must be seen as a setback and in the process leave little room for error and they cannot afford another loss. Even a draw would be detrimental to their hopes.

Daniel Kearney’s late point saved them last week but they will hope for an all round better display and look to Jack O’Connor, Aaron Myers, Paul Leopold and Luke Elliott to deliver this time round.

‘Barr’s showed their quality as champions with a fabulous 2nd half display against Newtownshandrum to send out a clear signal that they mean business again this year, despite the absence of the injured Conor Cahalane.

Ben Cunningham, Brian Hayes, Billy Hennessey, Ethan Twomey, William Buckley and Padraig Buggy were excellent last week and boosted by that win, they could very well win this one and leave Sars’ season very much out of their own control.

Kanturk showed in the latter stages of the league that they were hitting form at just the right time and that was evident against Sars, a game many felt they should have won.

They will be confident of getting the better of their North Cork rivals especially if the Walshes and Mc Loughlins play to form as they always seem to do when it really matters.

Senior A

Group A

Killeagh v Bride Rovers on Saturday in Midleton at 7pm

Na Piarsaigh v Inniscarra on Saturday in Ballincollig at 7.30pm

This is an East Cork derby that should be lively where the winners will have one foot in the knockout phase. Killeagh impressed when they got the better of Inniscarra; this will be a stiffer test and with Rovers buoyed by their win over Na Piarsaigh, they could edge this.

Na Piarsaigh themselves were rueing a host of missed opportunities in that game and if they can translate possession into scores, they could be too strong for the Mid-Cork side, who are not helped by the absence of at least 5 members of last year’s championship winning team.

Group B

Courcey Rovers v Blarney on Saturday in Ovens at 3pm

Ballyhea v Newcestown on Saturday in Mallow at 5pm

A lot is at stake in Ovens as the sides that lost last week seek a much needed win. Blarney’s loss was somewhat unexpected and once again Mark Coleman’s absence is being felt. They will hope that Shane Barrett and Padraig Power can guide them home on this occasion.

Newcestown showed what they are made of in that win and with Luke Meade, Eddie Kenneally and Richard O’Sullivan instrumental in that victory, if they repeat that type of performance they will be hard to beat.

John Mortell had Ballyhea in great shape for their win and Pa O’Callagahn and Eugene O’Leary racked up 1-15 between them, if they deliver that return again even the best efforts of a resolute Newcestown might not be enough.

Group C

Cloyne v Carrigtwohill on Saturday in Killeagh at 3pm

Fermoy v Mallow on Saturday in Castletownroche at 5pm

Two local derbies here between the respective winners and losers last week.

Cloyne upset the odds with an excellent win over Fermoy and that will put them in good shape for the clash with their rivals who demolished Mallow, Carrig won’t get it so easy this time but look to have enough to get over the line.

Fermoy will look to start better this time round and Mallow’s confidence must be low following 2 heavy defeats - the footballers were hammered by the ‘Barr’s, they will look for a response but even if they get it, Fermoy to win.

Premier Intermediate

Group A

Bandon v Ballincollig on Saturday in Cloughduv at 3pm

Castleyons v Dungourney on Sunday in Rathcormac at 2pm

Ballincollig were stunned by their loss to Dungourney and will look to bounce back against a Bandon side that were well beaten by Castleyons. Unless they get something out of this game, they’re almost certainly out.

Dungourney will be thrilled with that win but Castlelyons are far more experienced at this level and they will do well to get something out of this game.

Group B

Ballymartle v Valley Rovers on Saturday in Carrigaline at 5pm

Éire Óg v Carrigaline on Sunday in Brinny at 2pm

Having got the better of one South-East team last week, Ballymartle will look to take another Carrighdoun scalp and will be fancied to do so, but Valley’s were a bit unlucky last time out and could spring a surprise.

Éire Óg will be heartened by their 1st round win while Carrigaline who had a good league campaign and are well aware of the importance of this game, but might not get anything from it.

Group C

Ballinhassig v Watergrasshill on Saturday in Riverstown at 5pm

Kilworth v Castlemartyr on Sunday in Lisgoold at 4pm

Watergrasshill have drawn their last 4 group games, 3 last year and the point they gained last week against Kilworth could be vital as Fintan O’Leary along with the Collins and O’Sullivan brothers could prove a handful in this encounter.

Ciaran Joyce could miss this game and if so he would be a big loss and might just tilt the tie Kilworth’s way.

Intermediate A

Midleton v Douglas - prediction Midleton

Cloughduv v Ballygiblin - draw

Sarsfields v Blackrock - prediction Sarsfields

Mayfield v Kildorrery - prediction Kildorrery

Lisgoold v Aghada - prediction Lisgoold

Youghal v Aghabullogue - prediction Aghabulloge

Premier Junior

Tracton v Glen Rovers - prediction Glen Rovers

Argideen Rgs v Erin’s Own - prediction Argideen Rgs

Milford v Ballygarvan - prediction Ballygarvan

Kilbrittain v Barryroe - prediction Kilbrittain

St Catherines v Meelin - prediction St Catherines

St Finbarrs v Russell Rovers - prediction Russell Rovers.

Camogie team win in style

It certainly was keeping the best wine until last as Cork claimed their 29th All-Ireland Senior Camogie title with a superb performance that blew Waterford away. It was the perfect end to a difficult season and it put the heartbreak of successive final defeats, plus a league final loss firmly behind them. It was no more than a very committed and focused group on and off the field deserved.

How refreshing to see them win in style playing a brand of camogie that was easy to watch and so hard to play against. Special mention for captain Amy O’Connor who led by example and to Manager Matthew Twomey a pleasure to deal with all times. Victory or defeat, he always made himself available to the media. Enjoy the celebrations guys.