Semi-final time in hurling championships
With one exception, Douglas v Duhallow in a football QF, hurling is the dominant theme this weekend with 10 semi-finals down for decision across all 5 grades in the Co-Op Superstores County Championship.
Imokilly v Sarsfields in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday at 2pm
It’s an East Cork derby packed with potential and quality players on both teams. Sars have been so impressive in their outings to date, especially in the win over the ‘Barrs. Jack O’Connor, Aaron Myers, Luke Elliot, Craig Leahy, Cathal McCarthy and Paul Leopold have looked comfortable and composed, they are also the league champions and come into this game in confident mood but know this is going to be their biggest test.
Imokilly though will be hampered by somewhat limited preparation and the involvement of some of their players in big games ahead of this one.
They had comfortable wins in their games and looked very good in their win over Douglas, 29 points is impressive shooting, but the Sars defence will not be as accommodating.
Seamus Harnedy and Bill Cooper bring a wealth of experience to the side and the likes of John Cronin, a slight doubt, William Leahy, Sean Desmond, Jack Leahy, Diarmuid Healy and Daire O’Leary all play important roles for the divisional outfit.
Imokilly will start as favourites, but I have a fancy for Sars to edge a tight contest.
St Finbarrs v Midleton in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday at 4pm
The reigning champions against the champions of 2021 and a renewal of a rivalry that has produced some classic games over the years and the expectation is that this one will match some of them.
St Finbarr’s will not want to give up the title and the Sars result apart, would appear to be hitting form at the just the right time.
Unbeaten Midleton were excellent in the group stages. They have injury worries in Sam Quirke and Conor Lehane though.
Apart from the Cahalane’s involvement with Castlehaven, the ‘Barrs will have benefitted from their footballers making the semi-finals, and a clean bill of health injury wise.
Eoin Keane, Billy Hennessy, Brian Hayes, William Buckley and Ben Cunningham whose accuracy from play and placed balls has been key, are well versed in the art of winning tight games.
For Midleton, they will hope Lehane is fit, Tommy O’Connell, Luke O’Farrell, Brion Saunderson, Cormac Beausang, and Sean O’Leary Hayes are big players for a side that really showed their credentials by the manner in which they easily accounted for Blackrock in the last game.
This has the makings of a cracker and not easy to pick a winner, but I’m going to go for the champions to win, albeit narrowly.
Both semi-finals are live on C103.
Carrigtwohill v Newcestown in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday at 4pm
These are busy and exciting times for the Newcestown club as they are into the semi-finals of both championships with their teams backboned by a host of dual players.
In the last round they had a tough opening half against Killeagh but pulled away to win comfortably in the end; Eoghan Collins, Edmond Kenneally, Jack Meade,Richard O’Sullivan and Luke Meade delivering when they are needed most.
Carrig under Frank Flannery topped their group and went straight to the semi-final and with will fancy their chances of making the final with Liam Gosnell, Jay Horgan, Cian O’Riordan, Tomas Hogan and James Mulcahy among their big players.
The East Cork side will start as favourites but Newcestown possess remarkable spirit and determination and Carrig will have to match that if they are to win this one.
Blarney v Bride Rovers in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday at 6pm
An intriguing encounter here as both impressed in recent outings and Blarney recovered from an opening day defeat to show what they are capable by easily ending Cloyne’s ambitions in the last round.
The return of Mark Coleman is a further boost and with Shane Barrett, Padraig Power, Shane Mulcahy, Conor Power and Sean Crowley in good form, they will be hard to beat.
Bride, though are tough opponents and that has surfaced in their group phase especially in their win over Na Piarsaigh with Brian and Eoin Roche showing the benefits of their inter-county involvement.
There is a nice balance within the squad and they can call on Patrick O’Flynn, Adam Walsh, Conleith Ryan and Ronan O’Connell, but they will be without Jason Mannix who picked up a red card in the Inniscarra game.
Blarney especially if Coleman starts to look that bit better, should prevail.
Castlelyons v Castlemartyr on Sat in Midleton at 5pm
This could very well be one of the games of the weekend given the quality on both sides - add in the local derby factor and you can see why it should attract a large crowd.
Castlelyons looked set for the direct route to this stage but came unstuck against Ballincollig but bounced back with an emphatic win over Ballymartle to re-establish their credentials as favourites for this title.
Castlemartyr lost last year’s final in dramatic fashion to a late Inniscarra goal in a thrilling replay; that they are back again as contenders is testimony to their resolve.
Both are laced with top class players: Ciaran Joyce, Mike Kelly, Brian and Barry Lawton and Joe Stack for Castlemartyr, with Niall O’Leary, Colm Spillane, Alan Fenton 0-14 in the win over Ballymartle, and James Kearney for Castlelyons.
Very hard to call this - might need more than the 60 minutes to resolve, but a very hesitant nod to Castlelmartyr. Full commentary on this game on C103.
Ballincollig v Kilworth on Saturday in Riverstown at 5pm
When Ballincollig lost to Dungourney in their opening game, many felt given that Castlelyons were also in the group that it was season over. Their win over Castlelyons sent them directly to the semi-final, and with dual players that might help.
Kilworth showed their quality by beating Ballinhassig and Valley Rovers with Mickey Sheehan, Eoin Carey, Noel McNamara, Killian Heggtviet and Jeremy Saich have displayed remarkable resilience to keep their season going and they are a very hard team to beat.
Ballincollig will be boosted by the manner of the win over Castlelyons. Tadgh O’Connell, Jamie Dwyer and Brian Keating all featured on the Cork All-Ireland Under 20 winning team, add in Cian Dorgan, Conor Sexton, Steve Wills and Dave O’Sullivan and there is a nice balance within the group.
Kilworth will test them but the Mid-Cork outfit look better equipped to make the final.
Glen Rovers v St Catherines in Riverstown on Fri at 7.30pm
A short few hours after the seniors were relegated, this group lifted spirits with a big win in a penalty shoot out, against a fancied Kilbrittain side and they face an equally testing tie against the Denis Walsh-trained side.
Catherine’s went direct to the semi-final so the few weeks without a game might hinder them but they have quality players in Eoin Davis, Daniel Mangan and William Leamy.
The sides met in the group stages last year and it ended level, Glen will once again look to Ben Heffernan, Eoghan Varian, Lee Qulligan and Shane Busteed to try and engineer another win and if they play with the same spirit and determination as they did last time out, they will be hard to beat.
Erin’s Own v Barryroe on Saturday in Carrigaline at 5pm
Once again Erin’s Own produce the goods on the big days and having won the junior title last year they are now on the hunt for back to back titles and they will be hard to beat.
Barryroe though are one of the favourites for this title and took the direct route to the last four. Olan O’Donovan got 2-5 against Milford, Adam McSweeney and Ryan O’Donovan are key men for the West Cork side.
The East Cork side can call on John Kavanagh, James McMahon, Alan Bowen and the vastly experienced Shane Murphy; they will relish the challenge and are well capable of winning and they have already won their respective league title.
Midleton v Blackrock on Friday in Carrigtwohill at 7.30pm
It’s a credible achievement by the 2nd teams of these clubs to get this far in a very competitive championship.
Both had impressive group stages Midleton going direct to the semi-final and with a strong squad will be slightly fancied, and Blackrock showed their resolve by ending Ballygiblin’s long championships run.
Eoin Smith, Eoin Farrell, Elliott Cantwell and Ryan Sweeney have produced excellent displays. It should be a lively encounter slight nod to the ‘Rockies.
Aghabullogue v Mayfield on Friday in Páirc Uí Rinn at 7.30pm
The Mid-Cork side are hunting a championship double having also secured their place in the football semi-final with basically the same group of players, and Mayfield are in the City junior football final.
Aghabullogue have long been touted as the favourites for this championships and with Paul Ring, John Corkery 2-4 in the win over Lisgoold, Shane Tarrant along with Colm Gillespie in impressive form it is easy to see why.
Mayfield have shown their resolve with excellent wins over Sars and followed that by ending Lisgoold’s championship ambitions.
Nicky Kelly, Shane Keegan, Brian Punch, Michael John Coffey and excellent goalkeeper Richard O’Keeffe have anchored their challenge but they will need to be at their very best to win this one.
Premier Senior Football QF
Douglas v Duhallow on Sunday in Páirc Uí Rinn at 7.30pm
Douglas had a narrow win over St Michael’s last week and that might stand to them especially as Duhallow will have had little preparation with so many of their clubs playing.
Sean Powter and Shane Kingston can trouble any defence; add in Brian Hartnett and Kevin Flahive, Douglas will be favoured but they will need to curb Donnacha O’Connor and produce a consistent 60 minutes if they are to win this one, and set up a semi-final meeting with Nemo Rangers.
The stunning win by Cloughduv over red hot favourites St Finbarr’s has thrown the race for the title in the SE Systems Senior Championship wide open and the semi-final line up will be complete on Saturday when the re-fixed QF between Éire Óg and St Catherine’s goes ahead at 3pm.
It’s semi-final time in the both the Senior A and B championships. In the top grade it’s Mourneabbey v St Vals on Sunday at 3pm with Mourneabbey enjoying home advantage. The 2nd semi-final goes ahead on Wednesday 4 in Ovens at 8pm with Éire Óg versus Aghada.
Fermoy will play Kinsale in the B semi-final on Sunday in Fermoy at 3pm, with Clonakilty playing Castlehaven also at 3pm in Clonakilty.
Keep an eye on
Premier 1 Minor Hurling Championship semi-finals; on Saturday in Caherlag at 1pm it’s Glen Rovers v Midleton, and on Monday in Bishopstown at 7pm, Douglas meet Sarsfields.
On Sunday it’s the final of the City Division Junior Hurling Championship. In Ballinlough at 1.30pm, Nemo Rangers face Whitechurch.