WITHOUT a county title since 1993, St Finbarr’s are struggling to make it back to the top. They lost heavily to Bride Rovers in round one by a 10-point margin before surviving by a point in round two against Douglas.
Since then they have put in a massive effort in preparing for this quarter-final tie, but they’ll have to produce something special to see off the challenge of the East Cork divisional side.
Now that Carrigtwohill and Watergrasshill have qualified for the premier IHC final, they will strengthen the Imokilly challenge still further and they’ll be fancied to make it an all-East Cork semi-final against Erin’s Own.
Inter-county colleagues Ronan Curran and Niall McCarthy may well find themselves in direct opposition and that battle will have a huge bearing on the outcome.
Robert White and John Halbert are others who will figure for Imokilly and while Cathal McCarthy, Micky Ryan, Kevin Murray and Eddie Burke will lead the Barrs’ challenge, they don’t carry enough power to make to the semi-final.
St Finbarr’s v Imokilly
Pairc Uí Choaimh, 4pm
Verdict: Imokilly win.
IFC Quarter-final, Valley Rovers v Grenagh, Ovens, 3.30pm
Alan Quirke gets the opportunity to put last Sunday’s All-Ireland final defeat behind him when he lines out with his club Valley Rovers in this IFC quarter final.
Far more experienced at this level than their opponents, the Innishannon side look to carry a bit more power with Quirke, along with Kevin Canty and All-Ireland Under-21 medal winner, Fiachra Lynch leading their challenge.
Grenagh who won their divisional title last week, beating Dripsey in the final, are better known for their hurling but Tom Kenny, his cousin John Russell and Dee Dee Dorgan are equally proficient with the big ball and will make the Valleys earn their place in the semi-final.
Verdict: Valley Rovers win.
SHC semi-final, Bride Rovers v Newtown
Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 4pm
Given the demands of the inter-county team, it’s a tribute to the organising committee that the Cork SHC is down to the semi-final stage by the third Sunday in September.
Newtown were pushed all the way by Glen Rovers in their last outing where a couple of fundamental errors cost the Blackpool club dearly. In contrast, the Rovers were coasting early on before getting a close call from Midleton in their quarter-final, and it would be foolish for the former champions to take anything for granted tomorrow.
Former Limerick player Pat Heffernan has certainly got the Rathcormac side champing at the bit and if they play with the same commitment, they’ll make it very hard for Newtown.
County senior Brian Murphy, scoring sensation Michael Collins, Barry Johnson, Terry Broderick and outstanding goalkeeper Denis Fitzgerald are among the Rovers’ best, but this will be a huge test.
Newtown looked vulnerable against the Glen for long periods, but they held their composure and finished strongly to win by six points. The East Cork side will provide them with another searching test, but Newtown do appear to have all the answers.
Verdict: A Newtown win.
SH Relegation play-off, Bishopstown v Douglas
Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 2.30pm
With both clubs desperate to maintain their senior status, this game takes on more importance that the championship game which follows it. Douglas find themselves in this position following defeats to Cloyne and St Finbarrs, two games they should have won.
Bishopstown failed to Erin’s Own and Ballinhassig in their two games. This is the ‘Town’s first season in senior ranks and the relegation system makes a mockery of what the club is trying to achieve in an area of dense population.
The ‘Town will include two county seniors, Shane O’Neill and Pa Cronin, along with county Under-21 goalkeeper Ken O’Halloran, James Murphy and Denis Crowley, and they will make a huge effort to keep their status.
Douglas also have a number of exceptional players, in county Under-21s Eoin Cadogan and Stephen Moylan. Mark Harrington, Cormac Dineen, Brian Boyle and Paddy Barry are others who will strain every sinew in pursuit of victory.
Verdict: Douglas win.
IFC Quarter-final, Ballyclough v Cill na Martra
Five months have past since Ballyclough defeated Kinsale in the first round and only that the club reached the divisional JHC final, players would have been without competitive matches since.
Having received a bye into the quarter-final, the North Cork club are at a huge disadvantage going into this game.
County Under-21 All-Ireland medal winner Colm O’Neill will spearhead their challenge along with Paul O’Flynn, Sean Smyth and Diarmuid Herlihy, but it may not be good enough as the Muskerry side, led by county senior Noel O’Leary, were active up to a couple of weeks ago and their coach Diarmuid O’Donovan isn’t one to let the grass grow under his feet.
Verdict: Cill na Martra win.
IHC quarter-final, Ballygarvan v Kanturk
Ger Spillane will have to put the disappointment of last Sunday’s All-Ireland final defeat behind him and try to ensure his club progresses to the last four of the ordinary IHC when they take on Kanturk tomorrow.
Apart from Spillane, the Carrigdhoun club will look to Stephen White to see them over what is going to be a very tricky obstacle, as Kanturk, backed by county minor Lorcan McLoughlin, will put up stubborn resistance.
Verdict: A Ballygarvan win.
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