Saturday 14 December 2019

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Munster club games dominate

Thursday, 7th November, 2019 8:44am

There are no fewer than three Cork teams are in AIB Munster Club Championship action this weekend, while locally, Kilshannig and St James contest the County Junior Football Final.

Nemo Rangers vs Newcastle West

Having recently won their 21st county title, Nemo Rangers now embark on yet another Munster campaign as they go in search of yet another provincial title, they have an incredible 16 to date.

They will be warm favourites to win this clash but they will also be conscious of the need to improve on their second half performance in the county final, in which they only scored two points.

Newcastle have a nice blend of youth and experience in their team and can call on the likes of Iain Corbett, Mike McMahon, Sean Murphy, AJ O’Connor and Eoin Hurley in a bid to cause an upset.

Nemo, though, are past masters at winning games at this level and in Micheal Aodh Martin, James McDermott, Paul Kerrigan, the Cronin brothers and Luke Connolly, they have quality and talent to get them over this challenge and it should prove ideal preparation for the semi-final a week later against either Dr Croke’s or Austin Stacks.

Glen Rovers vs Borris-Ileigh

For various reasons, both clubs could probably do without this game, a bit like the third/fourth place play-off in the Rugby World Cup.

Borris-Ileigh, because I am sure they would much rather continue celebrations after such a long wait (33 years) for success, and for Glen Rovers, not being county champions will irk. But such is the proud nature of both clubs, that once the game gets underway, they will as they always do give it their best shot.

Stephen McDonnell is a major doubt for Glen but they will have the bulk of the county final team in action. Cathal Hickey, Dave Dooling, Robert Downey, Simon Kennefick, Adam O’Donovan and Patrick Horgan will be keen to put the county final loss behind them and will deliver a good display.

Brendan Maher, Dan McCormack, Conor Kenny, Sean McCormack, James Devanney, Liam Ryan and Jerry Kelly will lead the challenge for the Tipperary champions, who will enjoy the luxury of playing on familiar ground in Thurles, but how will the exertions of a county final win and the subsequent celebrations affect their efforts?

It’s an ideal opportunity for Glen Rovers to make it to another final, and if the focus is right, they could win.

Fr O’Neills vs Broadford

Having survived a gruelling and absorbing quarter-final last week, the test for this Fr O’Neill’s side is can they recover sufficiently to get themselves ready for what looks like been another stern test - remember that game went to extra-time.

That said, the manner in which they achieved the win is a measure of their resilience and ability in very difficult conditions.

Defensively they were excellent with Ger and Tom Mellerick and John Barry delivering brilliant displays while Robbie Cullinane, Mark O’Keeffe, Bill Dunne and Deccie Dalton also excelled.

Another factor in their win was the contribution off the bench, especially Jason Hankard, Liam O’Driscoll and Podge Butler, and they might need them again as the Clare champions have always been good in this championship.

If O’Neill’s have recovered mentally and physically they have enough about them to grind out another win, and playing the game in the heart of East Cork and the excellent facilities in Midleton, gives them another advantage.

Junior Football Final
St James vs Kilshannig

Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday at 3.15pm hosts the Junior A Football Final and pits north against west in the shape of Kilshannig vs St James.

Ever since winning the North Cork title, Kilshannig have been installed as favourites to lift this very prestigious cup but they face a tough test from a combative St James side.

The West Cork championship is highly competitive and the winners generally impress in the county series and James' are no exception, and with Aaron Hayes, James O’Sullivan, Michael McCarthy, Alan O’Shea and Eoin Feen, they have a nice balanced side.

Kilshannig are backboned by the O’Hanlon brothers, Killian and Eanna, both of whom impressed with their respective Cork teams, senior and under 20, during the summer. While this duo are key, they also possess quality in Darragh O’Sullivan, Jack and Dermot Twomey, and Brian Guerin and they look better equipped to win in what should be a highly entertaining final.

Hurling

After a long wait, complicated by the dual involvement of a number of clubs, the intermediate hurling championship moves a step nearer conclusion with the second semi-final being played on Saturday night in Páirc Uí Rinn.

It pits Blackrock against Aghabullogue with another Mid-Cork side, Cloughduv, awaiting the winners in the final.

Blackrock were beaten in last year’s final by Ballincollig and it’s a credit to them that their second team are contenders once again. They were very impressive in the win over Éire Óg, and if they repeat that effort, they will be very hard to beat.

The under 21 championships continue this weekend with several games down for decision, with the 4G pitch in Páirc Uí Chaoimh getting extensive use.

Erin’s Own face Ballinhassig, with Charleville meeting Valley Rovers, while in Páirc Uí Rinn Carrigaline play St Finbarr’s.

All these games are on Saturday, then on Sunday it's Blarney and Shandrum.

One interesting tie in the A football semi-final, it’s a local derby in Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday at 2.30pm, Éire Óg vs Ballincollig.

Ladies Football

On the same weekend a few weeks ago all three Cork teams collected Munster club titles in their grades and on Sunday all three are in action again - this time in the respective All-Ireland semi-finals.

In the senior grade, All-Ireland champions Mourneabbey will enjoy home advantage when they play Donaghmoyne from Monaghan at 1pm.

Ferbane GAA is the venue for the intermediate semi-final where Inch Rovers play Naomh Ciaran from Offaly at 2pm, while Donoughmore will also have home advantage in Lackabawn for their junior semi-final meeting with Meath’s Navan O’Mahonys at 2pm.

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