Cork’s Amy O’Connor will be back in action this weekend. Photo: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Men take a breath while camogie continues

After four weeks of intense championship activity, club players and indeed officials will be glad of the week off, as they prepare themselves for the final round of games, the results of which will shape the knockout stages of all championships.

As a result, it’s a very quiet weekend coming up with just 2 finals down for decision and at the time of writing, the pairings are not even known.

What we do know is that in the final of the Divisional and Colleges Section of the Bon Secours Football Championship, UCC will play the winners of tonight’s (Thursday) semi-final between Carbery and Duhallow in Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday night at 7pm.

On Saturday night, it’s the Co-Op Superstores Hurling Final at Páirc Uí Rinn is also where Imokilly await the winners of last night’s (Wednesday) semi-final UCC v Avondhu.

The vagaries of the current system is that should UCC win the football and Imokilly win the hurling, they will both go directly into the Championship QF after playing just 1 game.

Contrast that with the clubs who will have to play 3 games, 2 in the space of 6/7 days to reach the very same stage, surely that cannot be right.

Then if it’s a dual club, that’s 4 games in as many weeks, not the fault of the divisions/UCC but surely the CCCC of the County Board will look at this situation for next year’s championship.

Predicting who will qualify for the QFs is a bit difficult but the word in hurling is that Imokilly have prepared well and are fancied to progress, but if and it’s big if - UCC could trouble them given how many of their quality players are available with club commitments elsewhere.

In football it’s a similar situation but with a game under their belts, Carbery and Duhallow will have a big advantage.

We should have 2 lively finals.

Football championship

There was a mix of the good and the bad over the weekend with the strong wind a factor in most games and that did not help the quality that was witnessed in some games.

There were a few high scoring matches as well, with Kanturk getting goals, 6 in their 2 games, at vital times as they did in the first round. With the majority of their players, 12 in total I believe, playing for the 4th week in a row, they remain in contention in both hurling and football, which is testimony to the commitment and resilience of their players and the level of co-operation between the respective management teams.

In fact a draw in their last game versus neighbours Knocknagree - now that should be some match - will see them progress.

In the top grade both St Finbarr’s and Nemo Rangers are through, with the former favoured for the coveted semi-final spot, having recorded a big win over Mallow in round 1.

The so called group of death with 3 West Cork teams Carbery Rangers, Clonakilty and Castlehaven has lived up to that billing with all 3 still contention, the fourth team Valley Rovers are out.

Here’s what we do know, across all 5 grades, with 60 clubs involved.

5 have qualified for the knockout phase: Nemo Rangers, St Finbarr’s, Dohenys, Bantry Blues and Dromtarriffe, while Aghabullogue and Kilmurry look set to advance as well.

48 clubs can still progress, and 8 clubs cannot qualify - these are in Premier Senior - Valley Rovers and Carrigaline.

In Senior A, it’s Ilen Rovers and Kiskeam.

In Premier Intermediate, it’s Macroom and Na Piarsaigh, While in Intermediate A, it’s Ballinora and Glanworth.

There are several permutations in all grades and even draws for some clubs will see them extend their season, but others it will all end on the weekend of the 6/7/8 September and remember all games in each group will start at the same time.

Hurling championship

The hurling clubs are first back into action on the first weekend of September and like the football it will all be decided by 5pm with matches beginning on the Friday and again all starting at the same time.

In the Premier Senior, only 2 clubs are out of the championship, Glen Rovers and Bishopstown and when they meet in Páirc Uí Rinn it is effectively a match to avoid the relegation play-off with the losers heading in that direction.

The other 2 teams in that group Blackrock and Midleton are playing for a semi-final spot.

All the other teams can qualify. Look at the meeting of Erin’s Own and Fr O’Neill’s, both on 1 point and playing for a QF spot, dependent though on the result of the Charleville v Douglas game. Douglas are already qualified and still with a chance of a semi-final spot.

It’s a similar situation in the other group, champions St Finbarr’s v Kanturk and Sars v Newtownshandrum should produce some drama.

Just 3 teams, Douglas, Blackrock and Midleton have won their 2 games.

In Senior A, 3 clubs have secured their place in the knockout phase, Bride Rovers, Carrigtwohill and Newcestown.

A number of clubs are battling to avoid been dragged into the relegation dogfight among them Inniscarra, Courcey Rovers and Mallow all of who yet to win a game.

There are a couple of interesting encounters to look forward to including Na Piarsaigh v Killeagh - the city lads looking to bounce back after last year’s relegation, a draw might be good enough for Killeagh.

Premier Intermediate is just as exciting and this grade has produced some thrilling encounters over the years, two of the big guns Ballinhassig and Watergrasshill are in a tight group where draws in the final game will send them through but the margin for error is very tight.

There are 3 south-east teams in group B and even though they are pointless, Carrigaline can still qualify but it would take a strange sequence of result for that to happen.

Castlelyons are almost certain to advance with 2 wins from 2, and if they beat Ballincollig they could secure a semi-final spot. The big game here is Dungourney v Bandon. If the East Cork side win, they will extend their season which would be a continuation of their remarkable journey.

The remaining grades are just as interesting but as in football, for some clubs in the various grades their championship ambitions are over, including Douglas and Cloughduv in Intermediate, while in Premier Junior the same fate applies to Tracton, last year’s runners-up to Ballygiblin and St Finbarrs.

SE Systems Senior Camogie Championship

Castle Road is the splendid home venue of the Cork Camogie Board and I must say the newly laid pitch is in remarkable condition.

It will be a hive of activity in the coming days as the Senior Championship continues.

Champions and 3 in a row seeking Seandun make their first appearance on Sunday at 5.30pm when they play Carbery which will see Cork team mates Amy O’Connor and Libby Coppinger on opposite sides.

It actually starts tonight (Thursday) when Sars, who won their first round game, play Aghabullogue at 7.15pm and they will be fancied to win this one.

Cloughduv and Enniskeane meet on Saturday at 3pm, while this is followed at 5.30pm by the meeting of St Finbarr’s and St Catherines. Both won their opening games and with Orla Cotter back in action, this should be a lively encounter.

Jim O’Sullivan RIP

Jim’s passing last week has left a huge void in the Na Piarsaigh club with whom he served with distinction in a variety of roles including chairman over many years.

Illness limited his involvement for the last number of years, an illness he battled hard against, a battle he lost but not without a fight.

Sincere sympathy to his family, and his colleagues in the Na Piarsaigh club at this sad time.

May he rest in peace.