Down to last four in men’s football championship
The quality on view in the hurling semi-finals last weekend may not have been the best, but the drama was something else! Now it’s the turn of the football fraternity with semi-finals in all 5 grades, and for good measure a couple of vital relegation battles thrown into the mix as well.
Nemo Rangers v Duhallow on Sunday in Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 2pm
Without hitting the heights that they are capable of, the champions are still standing and the longer they are in the championship, the harder they are to beat.
They survived the conditions and a stern test from Clonakilty in the QF but they will be conscious that Duhallow will represent a serious threat to their ambitions of retaining the title, even if they have won the most recent meetings between the sides.
Duhallow looked impressive enough in seeing off a Douglas side that never really got to the pitch of the contest last Sunday night. They hit 3 quality goals and never looked like losing.
Donnacha O’Connor is the real driving force behind this team, belying his age and hitting scores for fun, Nemo will need to keep a tight reign on the Ballydesmond player.
Donnacha gets excellent support from Kevin Cremin, Conor O’Callaghan, Kevin Crowley, Seamus Hickey, Mikey McAuliffe and Darragh Cashman and even with limited preparation have a nice balance to their team.
Barry O’Driscoll missed the win over Clonakilty through injury and if fit will add an extra bit of experience to their team, Paul Kerrigan is still a key player for them, Luke Connolly, the O’Donovans Kevin and Alan, Briain Murphy and excellent goalkeeper Micheál Aodh Martin remain vital to the champions cause.
This could be a tricky tie for Nemo, but they are past masters at winning this type of a game and they should do so again.
St Finbarrs v Castlehaven on Sunday in Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 4pm
I’m tempted to take the Ger Power line when asked for a comment about Cork v Kerry: ‘Put me down for what I said last year’. Well considering it’s the 4th year in a row they are meeting, it might not be a bad idea.
The ‘Barrs lead 2-1 and two of these games were decided on penalties - could we have a similar scenario on Sunday?
The one thing though is that all 3 games have produced quality football, excellent scores and high levels of drama, and of course the 3 Cahalanes playing against lads they hurled with on a regular basis adds another dimension to this fascinating contest.
Defeat in last year’s final still hurts out in Togher - the better team won I might add, but the desire to atone is high on their list, as evidenced by the desire to go direct to the semi-final, shorten the route, and lessen the load on the dual players.
They eased through their group changed their goalkeeper with Darragh Newman replacing John Kerins, but the core of the team remains in place, superbly led, for what seems forever his words by captain Ian Maguire - he rarely lets them down.
Billy Hennessy, Jamie Burns, Alan O’Connor and Sam Ryan are consistent in defence, while in attack Brian Hayes, Cillian Myers Murray and the scoring machine that is Steven Sherlock will trouble any defensive unit.
The ‘Haven showed mixed form in their QF win over Ballincollig, excellent in the 1st half against the wind, with a poor opening quarter to the 2nd, but finished powerfully to get the job done - the start to the 2nd half will be a worry.
Like the ‘Barrs, they have changed their goalkeeper with Darragh Cahalane now between the posts and performing well, Rory Maguire a deserved All-Star nominee, Cathal Maguire and Damien Cahalane are quality defenders.
Just like the ‘Barrs they have a classy forward unit with the Hurley brothers Michael and Brian in lethal form and how good it is to see the latter shake off his injury worries, while Mark Collins’ workrate all over the field is another layer of quality in their team.
Trying to pick a winner from this one is almost impossible, but I have a slight fancy for the ‘Barrs to edge it, but it could be a long afternoon, if you get my drift.
Both these games are live on C103.
Newcestown v Newmarket on Saturday in Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 3pm
Having qualified for the hurling final last week, Newcestown are now on the hunt for a double final appearance and given their resilience and determination it would be silly to write them off.
This is a rematch of an encounter some years back when the Duhallow side looked to be in control but Newcestown produced a stunning comeback hitting 3 goals to record a famous win.
Newmarket were comfortable winners over Clyda Rovers and Kiskeam in their group with Darren O’Keeffe, Barry O’Connor, Paddy Browne and Paudie Allen all playing important roles.
The majority of Newcestown squad are dual players and come into this game with huge momentum and with Luke Meade, Tadgh Twomey, Richard O’Sullivan and Mike McSweeney in good form, they look set for a second semi-final win in the space of 6 days.
Dohenys v Knocknagree on Saturday in Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 5pm
When they lost their first outing and with injuries mounting, Knocknagree’s incredible run of recent years looked like coming to an end, but they defied the odds won a big derby against Kanturk and followed that by ending Ballingeary’s season in the quarter-final, so they are still contenders and will be hard to beat.
Equally Dohenys have been very impressive all season and have racked up some big scores in their march to this semi-final.
Eoghan McSweeney, Denis O’Connor, Matthew Dilworth and goalkeeper Patrick Doyle have huge big match experience for JF Daly’s side and that could a factor in what has the makings of an intriguing encounter.
Adam O’Donovan, Rhys Coakley, Colm O’Shea and quality attacker Mark Buckley will lead the challenge for the Dunmanway lads, but it might not be enough on this occasion.
Bantry Blues v Kilshannig in Coachford on Saturday at 5pm
The key to this game could hinge on the availability of Ruairi Deane who has been injured in recent weeks although Bantry coped well enough in his absence, but the Cork star adds an extra dimension to their team.
Kilshannig blew Aghada away to secure a semi-final spot and they are a big physical side with Eanna and Killian O’Hanlon excellent players for them, and even if Deane is fit, that might not be enough to deny the North Cork side a pace in the final.
Cill Na Martra v Castletownbere on Sunday in Bantry at 3pm
An intriguing encounter in prospect here between two evenly matched sides that have shown good form in their groups to date, and this one could require a bit more than the 60 minutes to decide who makes the final.
Going to give a hesitant nod to the Gaelthacht side.
Aghabullogie v Dromtarriffe on Mallow on Friday at 7.30pm
The Mid-Cork side are on the hunt for a double and will come into this game buoyed by the manner in which they won the hurling semi-final last weekend, with Paul Ring and Shane Tarrant key players for them.
Dromtarriffe have come through a few tough games and also had a couple of players impressing for Duhallow in their win over Douglas last weekend including Conor O’Callaghan and they will make it difficult for Aghabullogue, but a slight nod for the latter to progress.
Adrigloe v Mitchelstown in Kilmurry on Saturday at 5pm
The big news for the North Cork side is that Mark Keane is home after the conclusion of the AFL and is available and that will give them a huge boost as it appears that Cathal O’Mahoney is ruled out with an injury.
Adrigole have enjoyed an excellent season to date and had a good win over St Vincent’s in the last round, but Mitchelstown now that their dual commitments, with Ballygiblin been defeated are over, look better balanced and should progress.
St Finbarrs v Urhan in Rossmore on Saturday at 5pm
The city side topped their group and went direct to the last four and will certainly fancy their chances of beating the Beara lads who themselves were very impressive in seeing off a fancied Millstreet in the QF. The ‘Barrs to shade it.
Cobh v Kilmurry in Páirc Uí Rinn on Friday at 7.30pm
This is a repeat of last year’s County Junior Final in which Kilmurry were comfortable winners and have maintained that form in both league and championship and look well set to make the final.
SE Systems Camogie semi-finals
There’s a double header in Castle Road on Sunday and with favourites St Finbarrs out of the equation, the race for the title would appear to be wide open.
Champions Seandun bidding for 3 in a row face Cloughduv at 1.45pm and the latter, boosted by their splendid win over the ‘Barrs, will be in buoyant mood for this one and hopeful they can cause another upset.
Seandun have lost a few players from last year’s winning team but with Cork captain Amy O’Connor leading their attack, they will be favoured to progress.
The 2nd game is an all East Cork encounter at 4.45pm. Sars and St Catherines are two very evenly matched sides; Sars have enjoyed a lot of underage success in recent years and that might tilt the tie their way, but they will need to curtail the contribution of Orla Cotter and Laura Hayes if they are to do so.
Ladies football finals
There are a trio of county finals in MTU on Saturday which should make for an interesting afternoon’s entertainment.
First up at 12pm, it’s the Senior B Final with Castlehaven v Fermoy, that is followed at 2pm by the Junior A Final - a West Cork derby between Dohenys v O’Donovan Rossa.
The final of game of the day is at 4.15pm, Glanmire v Naomh Aban in the Intermediate decider.
Rebel Óg Minor Hurling Finals
Minors on Monday a long standing tradition introduced by Rebel Óg and it promises to be an exciting night with the Premier 1 and 2 Finals down for decision.
Killeagh and Newtownshandrum meet in the Premier 2 decider at 6.30pm while at 8pm, it’s the Premier 1 final Glen Rovers v Douglas with the latter bidding for a historic back to back double which would be some achievement.
They met in the group stages and Glen won a lively contest in Douglas and it kept their season alive - good players on both sides, it should be well worth a trip down.
Keep an eye on
There are two vital relegation battles in football: in Premier Senior, Mallow and Carrigaline return to Blarney, while in Intermediate A, Riverstown is the venue for the meeting of Glenville and Ballinora, both games with 3pm starts on Sunday.
On Saturday in Ballinlough, Nemo Rangers, having won the City Division Junior title last weekend go in search of what would be a unique double when they meet Mayfield in the football decider which has a 4pm start.