Saturday 04 April 2020

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Cork Independent

Game On

Football championships get underway for clubs

Wednesday, 3rd April, 2019 4:31pm

Tuesday night's County Board meeting and the subsequent vote on the championship format ensured that this year’s championship will be last in its current guise.

From 2020, the round-robin format will return and there will now be four grades, two in senior, and then premier and intermediate.

Personally I am not a fan of the new format, it was tried before and failed and it took a long time for the championship to regain its appeal. That said, it’s now in and let’s hope it works.

Clyda Rovers vs St Finbarr’s

The champions begin the defence of their title against a side that have proved to be tough campaigners at this level in recent years.

Their form of late has been mixed but they will test anyone and with seasoned players Ray Carey and Paudie Kissane still key figures, the ‘Barrs would not want to underestimate the Mourneabbey men.

For all that, it’s hard to see the holders slipping up; league results have been good, and apart from Michael Shields, the bulk of the championship winning team are still on board.

Ian Maguire, Stephen Sherlock, Sam Ryan and Conor Dennehy will want to start with a win and that is the likely outcome.

Nemo Rangers vs Valley Rovers

A first championship outing for Nemo Rangers since, by their high standards, their meltdown in Dunmanway when losing to Castlehaven last year. But their response to that was to win the league and you can be sure they will use that loss as a motivation for this tie.

Luke Connolly is an absentee, Micheal Aodh Martin is doubtful, but Paul Kerrigan, Stephen Cronin, Barry O’Driscoll and Colin O’Brien remain pivotal players for Nemo.

Valley Rovers are now under the guidance of Ned English whose enthusiasm for the game is as strong as ever. Chris O’Leary and Fiachra Lynch are their big men, but a better balanced Nemo should prevail.

Clonakilty vs Newcestown

As always, the draw threw up a West Cork derby and this one should be lively between these keenest of rivals and neighbours.

Clon are motoring well with Mark and Sean White, Tomas Clancy leads their challenge but they will miss the injured Liam O’Donovan. Luke Meade will be a key player for Newcestown despite his hurling commitments, but the odds favour a Clon win.

St Nick’s vs Doheny’s

These sides have been regular opponents in recent years, particularly in relegation battles, with honours even in those encounters.

Doheny’s league results have been impressive with the talented Mark Buckley in top form in attack, they did lose a thrilling West Cork Under 21 Final last Sunday but they have been consistent performers at this level.

Nick’s had a good campaign last year, losing out to eventual runners-up Duhallow after a great contest in Macroom. Eddie Fuller, David Dunlea, Adam Lynch, Dean Brosnan, Robert Downey and Simon Kennefick will need to deliver big games if they are to win this one and it is well within their capabilities to do just that.

Bishopstown vs Douglas

It’s a repeat of last year’s first round game between these southside city rivals in which victory went to Bishopstown.

Both sides had good league wins over the weekend and that will come as a nice boost ahead of this tie.

Quality players on view here; Ken O’Halloran and Jamie O’Sullivan for the ‘Town, Sean Powter if fit, Kevin Flahive and Eoin Cadogan for Douglas - hard to pick a winner here but a nod to Bishopstown to repeat the 2018 result and take the win.

Mallow vs Kiskeam

A North Cork derby and a repeat of the second round tie of last year in which Mallow won and are favourites to do so again this year.

Anthony Casey and Padraig Fitzgerald will lead the Kiskeam challenge, but with Mattie Taylor, Cian O’Riordan and James Loughrey, Mallow have the experience to repeat last year’s result.

O’Donovan Rossa vs Carrigaline

Another interesting encounter here and both sides will feel it’s a game they can win even with mixed results in the league.

The West Cork club will be boosted by winning the under 21 title last week, and the boost and momentum might get them over the line.

Castlehaven vs Fermoy

A real tough opener for Fermoy, back in this grade after a long absence.

Right now the ‘Haven seem to be hitting form at just the right time, even without the unfortunate Brian Hurley who is once again ruled out with injury.

Mark Collins, Damien Cahalane, Michael Hurley and Conor Cahalane are showing good form, and despite the best efforts of Fermoy, who include Tom Clancy and Ruairi O’Hagan, an upset does not look on the cards.

Premier Intermediate

There are a number of interesting ties in this championship: Newmarket to get the better of Bandon; Bantry Blues with Ruairi Deane on board should be too strong for Nemo’s second team; Kanturk, even without the injured Aidan Walsh, should beat Castletownbere; Na Piarsaigh face Aghada who re-graded from senior and will be the fancy here, but the city side had a big win over Millstreet this week and they could well shade this one.

St Michael's and Macroom is hard to call and Michael's, runners-up in the last two years, will want to get their campaign off to a winning start and might just do that on Sunday afternoon.

Intermediate Football

Glanworth vs St Finbarr's would suggest a win for the former but the ‘Barrs have a wealth of top players and had a good run last year, and depending on how many players their seniors use, they could well win this one. Mayfield vs Glenville could see the city side emerge as winners.

Pat McAuliffee RIP

A sense of shock still prevails around those of us, and indeed many more who knew Pat with news of his sudden and untimely passing.

I have known Pat for a long time and always enjoyed his company. He was helpful, courteous and full of facts that he willingly shared.

No doubt soccer, and in particular Cork City, was his first love, but his ability to cover rugby and GAA was a measure of his adaptability and he was comfortable at any game he was reporting on.

Pat has been taken from us to soon just like our late colleague from 96FM Jim Horgan was a couple of months ago, no doubt they are now comparing notes. Sincere sympathy to his family, friends and his colleagues in Rochsetown GAA, the Cork Soccer Referees Society and RTÉ Sport.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

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