Barrs and Bishopstown match of the day as championships take centre stage

WITH the Cork senior footballers’ league campaign over for another season, the county championships begin in earnest this weekend with seven senior and four intermediate games.

Relegation has been introduced this season and with clubs having to win at least one game to keep their status, every match has taken on added significance.

TODAY

Evening Echo SFC

Ilen Rovers v St Nicholas

Bandon, 7pm.

Injury-free Rovers field three current county seniors - Kevin O’Sullivan, Diarmuid Duggan and John Whycherley. Former senior Fachtna Collins is also in line for selection and with two league wins under their belts from three games played, they’ll start as favourites.

Nicks were boosted by a one-point win over Ballincollig last week in the league, their first win in four games played. Their young team is built around the U21 county winners of two years ago and will include Donal Óg O’Donovan, Niall Horgan, Dave Cunningham, Shane Kenefick and Eoin McCarthy.

Verdict: An Ilen Rovers win.

SUNDAY

Evening Echo SFC

Naomh Abán v O’Donovan Rossa

Ahiohill, 2pm.

Naomh Abán will hope Anthony Lynch has recovered from a hamstring injury, as Jonathan McCarthy (calf) is also likely to miss out. The Ó Cróiníns - Miceál and Donal - Donal Óg Ó Liatháin, Sean Ó Cuill and Gary Ó Loinsigh will all start, but they’ll need Lynch.

After almost 20 years Kevin O’Dwyer has transferred to Cullen in the Duhallow division and Rossas will find it very difficult to replace him, while Paddy Nealon is struggling with a hamstring. Alan Tanner (county U21), Conor McCarthy, Rob Long and Kevin Cotter will start.

Verdict: An O’Donovan Rossa win.

Ballincollig v Nemo Rangers

Ovens, 3.30pm.

Champions Nemo introduce former Wexford star Darragh Breen for his championship debut, but they’ve lost Mick Daly (army duty), William Morgan and James Masters (injured), and Brian O’Regan from the team which failed to St Galls in the All-Ireland Club semi-final. However, Derek Kavanagh, David Niblock and Maurice McCarthy should give Nemo an edge.

Ballincollig have been hit by the loss of John Miskella with a medial knee ligament injury. Colin West, John O’Brien, Liam O’Toole and the three Cork players - Stephen O’Donoghue, John Kelly and Brian O’Connor - will spearhead their challenge but they’ll need luck to survive this test.

Verdict: A Nemo Rangers win.

Bishopstown v St Finbarr’s

Páirc Uí Rinn, 3.30pm.

Bishopstown have won the last two championship clashes between these two, but they’re short a few for this game. Alan O’Connor, James Murphy, Brian Healy and Mark Kilgallon, Martin Hayes and Shane O’Mahony are all unavailable.

Barrs will field a very young team with experience in Jim O’Donoghue, Robert O’Mahony and Ronan Curran, who is trying to overcome an injury sustained with the county senior hurlers last Sunday. Roy Leahy and Michael Shields won Munster U21 medals last week and could give the Blues a winning edge.

Verdict: A Barrs win

Castlehaven v Dohenys

Rosscarbery, 4pm.

The ‘Haven will be without Alan Sheehy, Ray Cahalane and Ian Cahalane and will field a young side for this west Cork game.

Apart from local bragging rights, there is very little at stake in this game as it’s a preliminary round and both teams will go through to the next round, win or lose.

For Castlehaven Liam Collins, David Limrick, Chris Hayes and county player Dermot Hurley will all figure.

Dohenys have an excellent record against their opponents and despite losing Ronan O’Sullivan to the States, they’ll field Paul Deane, Denis Healy, Michael and Sean Farr and Michael O’Donovan so they should maintain their dominance over the ‘Haven.

Verdict: A Dohenys win.

Aghada v Na Piarsaigh

Ballinacurra, 3.30pm.

Aghada have been badly hit by players going abroad - Brendan O’Flaherty, Ger Melvin and Paul Kilbane - while Brendan Crowley is exam-tied and Dave Creedon has opted out. County senior Ciaran O’Connor, James O’Connell, Aidan Kelleher and Ronan Dwane will start but it’s a tall order.

Piarsaigh have Mark Prendergast back, Seán Óg Ó hAilpín, John Gardiner, Sean McLoughlin, Stephen O’Sullivan and Gary Sheehan and will make it very hard for Aghada.

Verdict: A Na Piarsaigh win.

Clonakilty v St Michael’s

Brinny, 3.30pm.

Clon could well be dark horses this year - they’ve recruited Noel Griffin and Martin O’Brien; Conrad Murphy is fully fit and Nigel Hayes is also back in harness. They’ll be expected to win this game with something to spare.

However the St Michael’s U21 team have reached the city final and if Chris Murphy (Co U21), Wayne Sherlock and Brian O’Keeffe are on form, Clon will know they are in a game.

Verdict: A Clonakilty victory.

MONDAY

Evening Echo SFC

UCC v Seandún

Páirc Uí Rinn, 7pm.

The City Division have done quite a bit of work under former county senior Mick Hannon, but the students will be hard to beat. UCC will be without a number of regulars because they are club-tied, but will still put out a very strong side which should be good enough to win the game.

Verdict: A UCC win.

More in this section

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Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.

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