Friday 18 October 2019

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Cork Independent

Game On

Another action-packed weekend of games ahead

Wednesday, 25th September, 2019 4:40pm

Senior Football

Nemo Rangers v St Finbarrs

Meetings between these great rivals always produce classy games and for the first time in a long while, the ‘Barrs face their near neighbours as champions.

Nemo never need an incentive when facing the ‘Barrs, but this is an added ingredient to an intriguing encounter.

They’ve had contrasting routes to this stage; ‘Barrs were put to the pin of their collar and needed extra-time to see off the determined challenge of Carbery Rangers and would not have done so without the excellence of Ian Maguire and the scoring exploits of Stephen Sherlock.

Nemo were always in control against Doheny’s and while the latter rallied late on, the result was never really in doubt.

Both sides have injury concerns coming into the game and the ‘Barrs will be without dual star Glenn O’Connor whose season is over after picking up a shoulder injury in their hurlers win over Bishopstown, while Barry O’Driscoll is a doubt for Nemo.

There are quality players on both sides with Paul Kerrigan and Stephen Cronin key for Nemo, and as ever Maguire and Sherlock pivotal to the champion’s challenge.

Always a hard one to call between these keenest of rivals but a nod to the champions to make it to the last four, where Douglas await.

Consistency has been the hallmark of this Duhallow side and who will ever forget their trilogy of cracking games against Castlehaven last year? They emerged as winners, and are once again showing the form that makes them difficult opposition.

Their preparations are probably hindered by the involvement of so many players with their clubs in the last few weeks, but at least they were playing football and it’s a situation that manager Padraig Kerins is well used to.

Duhallow have experience in every line including Lorcan O’Neil, Anthony O’Connor, Eoghan McSweeney, Bart Daly and if he starts, Donnacha O’Connor is a handful for any defender.

Clonakilty have enjoyed an excellent campaign and several of their players impressed in Cork’s championship campaign, none more so then the White brothers Mark and Sean, Tomas Clancy and the tenacious and hard working Liam O’Donovan.

This will test them, the club spirit will help but Duhallow look better equipped to win.

Inniscarra have been the surprise packet of this championship but their run to the semi-final comes on the back of some outstanding and battling displays, especially in the last round against Castleleyons.

At half-time they were behind and were down a couple of key players through injury including Cork star Sean O’Donoghue and they were reduced to 14 early in the second half. The manner in which they overcame those obstacles would suggest they are hitting top form at the right time.

Kilworth of course will feel the very same as they contest a semi-final at this level for the very first time, and they too impressed in beating Carrigaline in their quarter-final.

Kieran Walsh, Will Condon, Noel McNamara, Jamie Sheehan and Brian Tobin have been important players for the North Cork side over many years.

O’Donoghue is a doubt for Inniscarra, but with John O’Callaghan and Colm Casey still performing at the top of their game, their winning run could extend to them securing a final place.

These are two sides laced with young and exciting talent which could produce the game of the weekend, and it’s hard to predict a winner.

Both impressed in their quarter-final wins, especially Blarney who excelled in the manner in which they saw off a highly rated Valley Rovers side, with Mark Coleman, Declan O’Hanlon, Joe Jordan, Padraig Power and Shane Barrett producing top class displays.

In successive weeks, O’Neills who are favourites to win this championship out, easily saw off Fermoy and Watergrasshill, with a range of scoring that was very effective.

Declan Dalton is their scorer in chief, especially from placed balls and here the Blarney defence needs to be disciplined, while Mark O’Keeffe and Ger Mellerick are key players for the East Cork side.

Slight fancy for Blarney but it may take a second game to get a winner.

Plenty of other games down for decision, with the meeting of Bandon and Bantry Blues in a Premier Intermediate Football replay topping the bill. Both will have benefitted from the drawn encounter, and Bantry might just shade it this time.

In the same grade, a Mid-Cork derby between Eire Óg with Daniel Goulding, Kevin Hallissey and Ronan O’Toole leading their challenge should get the better of their divisional rivals Ballingeary.

In Intermediate Hurling, Cloughduv who in their first year up are enjoying an extended run and might just be shade their semi-final clash with Sarsfields.

The Junior Championship also returns. In hurling, Courcey Rovers and Ballinascarthy will be fancied in their respective clashes with Harbour Rovers and Whitechurch, while in football, Kilsahnnig will be too strong for Ballinhassig. Newly crowned West Cork champions St James - if they curtailed their celebrations - will be expected to overcome Cobh.

The draw for the quarter-finals of both hurling and football will take place on Sunday after the double-header in Páirc Uí Rinn.

The semi-finals of the SE Systems Senior Championship go ahead on Sunday next in the Camogie Grounds in what is an attractive double-header.

In the opening game, it’s St Finbarrs against an up and coming Sars side that showed remarkable resilience to come from behind to defeat a highly rated Carbery side.

Molly Lynch, Emer Fennell, Lucy Allen and Niamh O’Callaghan are key players for Sars but there is an over-reliance on Fennell for scores, while as ever the ‘Barrs will look to the very experienced Gemma O’Connor in a bid to reach the decider and that experience might be crucial in a tight contest.

The second game features four in a row seeking champions Inniscarra against Killeagh who have Hannah Looney, Laura Treacy and Chloe Sigerson in their team. They defeated Glen Rovers last time out but were a bit limited in attack and will need an improvement if they are to advance.

Inniscarra have remained a model of consistency in the championship and that was evident in their recent wins and they ground out results against among other Eire Óg where a strong finish saw them carve out a win.

Rena Buckley, Niamh McCarthy, Treasa McCarthy, Niamh Dilworth and the hard working Katie O’Mahoney are as motivated as ever and that should be enough to see them into another final.

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