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Action packed weekend ahead

Wednesday, 7th August, 2019 4:33pm

With the Cork minor footballers heading for Croke Park and a host of county championship games in various grades, supporters will be spoiled for choice as the season really takes off, with every game now a defining one.

Cork v Mayo

In the aftermath of the minor footballer’s narrow but deserved win over Clare, which effectively set up a summer of football, manager Bobby O’Dwyer said: “This is exactly what this team needs, the structure of the last few years worked against the development of our players and I can guarantee you we will be a lot better for it”.

How right he was; Cork came very close to beating Kerry in the Munster Final and then continuing on an upward curve, they produced an excellent display in seeing off a highly rated Monaghan team in the quarter-final.

This is a very good Cork team who are improving all the time, but this will represent another tough test against a Mayo side who always produce good teams at this level, and of course will be backed by a huge following - if it’s tight that could be a factor.

In their quarter-final win over Dublin, they scored 5-12 with impressive displays from Ethan Henry, Ciaran Mylett, Ruairi Keane, Oisin Twomey and Eoin Gilraine. On the other side, they conceded 2-19, and only a late save by their goalkeeper Luke Jennings kept them in the championship.

Cork were composed and confident in the Monaghan game, scoring 3-19 in the process, even when the Ulster champions scored from two, in my opinion rather soft penalties and they will need all that again next Saturday.

Conor Corbett, Hugh Murphy, Michael O’Neill, Keelan Scannell, Ryan O’Donovan, Patrick Campbell, Daniel Linehan and Jack Cahalane have all benefitted from an extended championship run and will look to continue that momentum.

This is another important game for Cork football, which is enjoying a good run of results right now, and the minors are very well capable of making it to the final.

A well known journalist remarked to me after the Munster Final, that we could see these two colliding again on All-Ireland Final day. He could be right, let’s hope his predictions are a bit better than his time keeping.

Senior Hurling Championship

A total of five games are down for decision and all with an appeal of their own as clubs enter a stage of the season where winning is the only option.

City rivals Na Piarsaigh and St Finbarrs open proceedings in a double header in Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday night, with the northside club hit by the injury that has ruled Christopher Joyce out of action for a considerable length of time, while Pa O’Rourke is also rated doubtful having picked up an injury over the weekend.

They can call on a trio of Cork under 20 stars in Evan Sheehan, Craig Hannifin and Daire Connery, who were all absent when they suffered a heavy defeat to Bride Rovers in a league play-off a few weeks back, which is not an indication of their form which has been good of late.

St Finbarrs were only beaten after extra-time by Blackrock in the league semi-final, a game in which they played very well, and could have won.

Billy Hennessey, the Cahalane brothers, Eoghan Finn and Glenn O’Connor are key players for the ‘Barr’s who might just edge this one.

The second game here is the meeting of Ballymartle and Midleton with the latter missing a number of key players among them goalkeeper Tommy Wallis who is now working abroad and is a huge loss.

Conor Lehane, Paul Haughney although carrying a knock, and Luke O’Farrell will be vital players for Midelton, as they always are.

The incentive for the winners is a meeting with champions Imokilly and that might be enough for the Magpies as they endeavour to avenge last season’s result in the county final.

The meeting of Blackrock and Newtownshandrum has the makings of a real humdinger as both are coming off the back of impressive wins.

The ‘Rockies looked very good in winning the League Final recently as they put a fancied Sars side to the sword, and Newtown bagged six goals in their win over Newcestown last Sunday, the ideal warm up for this clash.

Jamie Coughlan was in great from with three goals, while Tim O’Mahoney was an imposing figure throughout the second half especially.

Blackrock have a string of quality players who have enjoyed a lot of success at underage level and now crave the ultimate glory, among them Michael O’Halloran, John and Niall Cashman, Liam O’Sullivan and Stephen Murphy.

There is a nice balance in their team and form would suggest they will win. Mourneabbey is the venue for this game on Saturday night.

Mallow will host another double header on Sunday with Erin’s Own and Kanturk the opener with the latter calling on Anthony Nash, the McLoughlins - John and Lorcan, Aidan Walsh and his cousin Ryan who made an important contribution to the Cork under 20 win in Portlaoise last Saturday.

Erin’s Own as they have been for some time now are reliant on a hardcore of regulars who have for years backboned their challenge and that might get them over the line.

Bride Rovers and Ballyhea meet in the second game and here the odds favour the East Cork side who will look to the Roche twins Eoin and Brian and the ever reliable Barry Johnson to steer them home.

Senior football championship

There’s a Sunday evening double header in Pairc Uí Rinn with Bishopstown and Carrigaline opening proceedings at 5pm, and both will fancy their chances of making progress.

The South East side can call on Cork under 20 winners Jack Murphy and Jack McCarthy whose form will be watched with interest.

The ‘Town had a mixed league campaign and will hope to show improvement on that in this must win game.

They have a lot of experienced players in their squad most notably Jamie O’Sullivan, Ken O’Halloran and Diarmuid Lester which gives them an edge.

This is followed by the meeting of UCC and Douglas and previewing this game is fraught with danger given that the composition of the college team will depend largely on the availability of players who are club tied in both Cork and other counties.

Douglas recently lost the Division 2 League Final and only Eoin Cadogan of their inter-county contingent played but if the rest, among them Kevin Flahive, Nathan Walsh, Sean Powter and Alan Cadogan are available, they will be expected to win.

Intermediate grades

There are a host of intriguing games in both codes, with a couple of very attractive Premier Intermediate hurling clashes down for decision.

Last year’s runners-up Courcey Rovers face the Intermediate champions Ballincollig and with a more experienced panel, among them Sean Twomey, they will start as favourites.

Ballinhassig with the Collins brothers and Fintan O’Leary in their side should have too much in hand for Inniscarra who have been struggling of late.

In the football equivalent, the inclusion of Luke Connolly in the Nemo Rangers team will make them favourites to end Castletownbere’s ambitions.

Equally Daniel Goulding and Ronan O’Toole will be pivotal as Eire Og look to get the better of Aghada, while Newmarket might just edge their clash with Naomh Aban.

There are three Intermediate football games scheduled: Donnacha O’Connor’s Ballydesmond should be too good for Kildorrery, while Millstreet with Mark Ellis and Michael Vaughan on board will be expected to beat Youghal.

Kilmichael is the venue for the meeting of Ballinora and Adrigole with the latter slight favourites to win.

There are several games in hurling too. Glen Rovers will fancy their chances against Aghabullogue, recently crowned D4 league champions Blackrock will face a stiff test against Grenagh who will once again look to Tom Kenny for leadership.

Dungourney should prevail against Kilbrittain, while Sarsfields will be fancied in their clash with Ballygarvan, equally Meelin should get the better of Ballymartle.

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