Club v county dilemma hits Na Piarsaigh

LOYALTY to club and county is posing a major dilemma for a quartet of Na Piarsaigh footballers ahead of their opening Permanent TSB Cork SFC clash tonight (7pm).

Na Piarsaigh are due to play O'Donovan Rossa in the opening round of the championship at Clonakilty, but preparations have been hampered by the involvement of four of their key players in Cork's Allianz Hurling League match-up with Clare in Ennis tomorrow.

The Ó hAilpín brothers Seán Óg and Setanta, Mark Prendergast and John Gardiner are all facing two games in 20 hours and despite a request by the county selectors to have the club match deferred, Na Piarsaigh have stuck with the original fixture fearing a postponement would cause major problems for hurlers down the line.

The consequence of the club's decision could be the county hurling selectors won't pick any of the four players for the trip to Ennis on Sunday. It's the latest club versus county conundrum, with frustration amongst club players increasing by the week.

Na Piarsaigh enjoyed a good run last year scoring a couple of important victories over Bantry twice before going out to the eventual runners-up Bishopstown in the quarter-final.

Rossas will field a young side which will include a number of their successful minor team which won the county two years ago. Don Davis and inter-county player Conor McCarthy will provide the experience and they should get their campaign off to a winning start.

Verdict: O'Donovan Rossa.

St. Nicholas v Bantry Blues

Kilmichael, @7pm

How the mighty have fallen. Not too long ago Bantry were the kingpins of Cork football, Last year they suffered a bad defeat at the hands of Na Piarsaigh in the opening round and the city side confirmed their dominance over the West Cork club with another victory later in the championship.

Bantry did bounce back to win last year's Kelleher Shield title, but a heavy league defeat to Douglas last week is not the ideal preparation for tonight's championship outing. St Nicks side won't get a better chance though Bantry will still have their big name players Damien O'Neill, Graham Canty, Paul O'Rourke and Des McAuley. Verdict: A Bantry win.

Dohenys v Youghal

Ballincollig @7pm

THE Dunmanway side were the only team to provide Nemo Rangers with any real test in the county championship over the last two years.

This year they have changed their coach and brought in Keith Ricken to freshen things up. They have a very experienced team with Mick O'Donovan, Kevin Murray and Michael Farr leading the charge.

Since losing the services of Sean Hayes as coach, Youghal football has slipped. Despite captain Philip Monaghan, Eoin and Brendan Coleman, Miceal Ó Laocha, and Tim Dempsey, the East Cork side don't have sufficient firepower to win this one.

Verdict: A Dohenys win.

There are three IFC first round ties down for decision tonight with the clash of Macroom and Castletownbere at Drimoleague, the pick of them.

Macroom are another of the great footballing clubs in Cork who have fallen on lean times, Castletownbere have been knocking on the door for a couple of years with little success. They look to have that bit extra in playing strength and should ease through after a lively hour.

Carrigaline who play St Vincents in Passage, will have Paul Murphy back Murphy along with his brother, county senior Nicholas, should ensure Carrigaline shade it but the saints won't be a pushover.

Just seven days after they failed to Glanmire in a preliminary round, Delanys are back in action, this time against Newmarket in Mallow.

If nothing else the Dublin Hill side should benefit from the extra game, but Newmarket who lost a three goal lead to Newcestown in the semi-final three years ago - the West Cork side went on to win the title - look to have too much football for the city side.

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