looks ahead to five intriguing games taking place this Easter weekend.
Friday night lights
Sarsfields play Kanturk in Mallow this evening in the Cork senior hurling championship, and a 7.45pm throw-in means the floodlights may come into play before the end of the evening.
This is an intriguing one, because Sars dominated the local senior scene in the last decade or so, picking up four county titles and appearing in three other finals.
No other side has that kind of experience in the bank. Kanturk may be relative newcomers by comparison, but their All-Ireland intermediate title last year and a core of Cork seniors means this isn’t as clear-cut as it might first appear.
A calm appraisal means you’d have to fancy Sarsfields, but Mallow can expect plenty of fireworks this evening, floodlights or no floodlights.
A pair of senior hurling games in Riverstown offers you the narrative beloved of GAA supporters everywhere: Clubs in a hurry to get to the promised land, clubs in a struggle to preserve their status, and clubs somewhere in between.
Douglas and Bride Rovers open the proceedings and the expectation is that the city side, speckled as they are with intercounty players, should have enough firepower to see off Bride Rovers.
There’s a clear favourite in the second game as well, as St Finbarr’s take on Carrigtwohill. The Barrs, fired up no doubt by their footballers’ victory last year, will seek to get their championship off to a bright start.
Both east Cork sides have recent enough reason for encouragement — Bride Rovers made the county final in 2008, and Carrig won it all three years later — but they’re up against it tomorrow, and will have a nervous eye on the possibility of relegation when that rolls around.
Páirc Uí Rinn hosts two games on Sunday and it’s arguable that the second game is the tie of the round on paper.
The opener pits Na Piarsaigh against Killeagh, with the city side keen to put last year’s disappointments behind them.
There’s plenty of youth and quality in the Piarsaigh colours, and Killeagh will be up against it trying to contain that attack in particular. At the other end of the field, Na Piarsaigh also had Eddie Gunning named in the Higher Education team of the year.
This game will give Killeagh a good sense of their standing in the grade.
The second game pits a Midleton side still seeking to add to their 2013 title against a Glen Rovers team which collected top honours in 2015 and 2016.
The clash of Cork stars Conor Lehane of Midleton and Stephen McDonnell of Glen Rovers will be significant, as both clubs eye up a lengthy championship run.
East Cork derby
The very definition of a derby, this clash brings two of the big beasts in the Imokilly division to Ballynoe tomorrow.
Apart from the vexed question of which side proceeds to the next round of the Premier Intermediate championship, there’ll be much interest in the health of Colm Spillane of Castlelyons, who is rehabbing a back injury.
Spillane is a crucial element of the Cork senior hurlers’ defence and Rebel boss John Meyler will be keen to see a fully-fit Spillane come through this test ahead of the Munster championship opener v Tipperary.
West Cork derby
Hurling life west of the viaduct: Clonakilty is the venue for a game that should crackle with entertainment, as Newcestown and Bandon face off on Sunday.
Two great nurseries of the game in west(ern) Cork, in decades past this would have been a prototypical intermediate hurling clash, but these two teams are now in the top flight.
As a result, there’s a good deal more at stake here than might normally be the case.
An argument could be made that, though Glen-Midleton looks more promising on paper, this clash has the potential to be the game of the weekend.