Clonakilty keeper Mark White had intended to take a break from the game this year to go travelling, but Covid-19 put a halt to that and the 2019 Cork no. 1 will be between the sticks for the West Cork men. Out the field, his brother, Sean, and Tom Clancy form the backbone of this Clon side. Carrigaline scraped into the premier senior grade, coming in 12th when the rankings were finalised.
An absolute must-win for both sides given they have Castlehaven and Carbery Rangers coming down the tracks. Tom Wilson’s Newcestown came out on top when they clashed in last year’s semi-final. David Buckley kicked 0-4 for Newcestown during that win, but it remains to be seen if he will again be deployed in attack given he spent the spring as part of the Cork U20 defence. For Ilen, Seán O’Donovan, Peter O’Driscoll, and Stephen Leonard are key figures.
Bishopstown will be without Darragh O’Connor (shoulder). There are concerns surrounding Michael Power (knee) and Brian Clifford (leg). Sam Oakes and former Cork senior Conor Dorman are no longer part of the panel, both men having emigrated earlier this year. Douglas, as ever, look remarkably strong on paper. The question remains, though. Can they translate that into a consistent run through the championship?
Dean Brosnan and David Busteed are injured for St Nick’s. For O’Donovan Rossa, former Cork senior Donal Óg Hodnett is back fit after tearing his cruciate ligament last summer. He and Kevin Davis is an attacking partnership that will keep the city lads on their toes.
St Michael’s finally find themselves up senior but maybe not the way they would have liked - it was their high ranking among last year’s premier intermediate teams which secured them promotion when this new senior A grade was thought up. The likes of Tadhg Deasy and Liam O’Sullivan should help them get off to a winning start here.
Cork and Bantry star Ruairi Deane is working his way back from an injury and this game may have come a fraction too soon for him. Arthur Coakley returns to the Bantry fold after recovering from a cruciate ligament. Éire Óg is awash with young talent. Colm O’Callaghan was a Cork U20 starter last year, Jack Murphy was this year, while Hugh Murphy was half-forward on Cork’s successful 2019 minor side.
Sean Meehan, a Cork U20 starter last year, is an important cog in the Kiskeam wheel. These sides also met on the opening weekend of action last year, Kiskeam scoring a 2-12 to 0-10 win. Matty Taylor and Ryan Harkin will be central to Mallow’s efforts to atone for that defeat.
Aghada return to competitive action after an incredibly difficult week and a half following the passing of Kieran O’Connor. The latest defender from the club to be part of a Cork rearguard is Diarmuid Phelan, he was corner-back for Keith Ricken’s U20s earlier this year and will have an important role to play today. Could well be detailed onto Castletownbere’s Gary Murphy.
Last season was very much a case of what might have been for Newmarket. They let slip a seven-point second-half lead against eventual champions Éire Óg. Newmarket have 2019 Cork U20 goalkeeper Josh O’Keeffe between the sticks, while further forward, Danny Culloty and Conor O’Keeffe will keep the opposition defence busy. Alan Hogan and Keith Buckey will carry the Na Piarsaigh threat.
All-Ireland-winning Cork U20 midfielder Daniel O’Connell is out for Kanturk because of a knee injury. Alan Walsh, a promising footballer, is in his first season with the Kanturk seniors and could feature. Macroom will be determined to begin their 2020 campaign on a much brighter note than they finished last year’s championship, Cill na Martra taking them for six goals during a 16-point thumping.
There could be an adult championship debut for Ballinora’s Neil Lordan; he was full-back on last year’s Cork minor team. Glenville had started the league well before lockdown arrived, winning two games in Division 4.
Mayfield are another side who had been showing early season promise before the shutters came down. They scored two wins and a draw from their three Division 4 league outings.
These two sides renew acquaintances after an epic second-round tussle last year, which Rosscarbery won after extra time. Ross have, however, lost the services of Tipperary star Robbie Kiely, who has switched to Barryroe. John Hayes remains the attacking star with John O’Rourke also key. Castlehaven endured a difficult 2019, having lost to Fermoy before the Ross defeat, but they still possess a wealth of talent, including the Hurley brothers Brian and Michael, Mark Collins and Damien Cahalane.
2018 premier intermediate champions Fermoy made a good impression in what was a curtailed stint in the top flight. However, they are without a number of key players, with Cork star Tomás Clancy injured, his brother Pádraig and Jeffrey Daly in Australia, Jack Hutchings, Josh Pyne, and Ronan O’Callaghan are injured too, and Seán Shanahan and Shane Aherne unavailable due to army commitments. All-Ireland U20 medallist Fionn Herlihy leads the Dohenys attack along with Mark Buckley.
While Vincent’s midfielder Shane Buckley is in Australia, they can still call upon the services of veteran stars Patrick O’Shea in goal and John Paul Murphy in attack. Knocknagree won the IFC in thrilling fashion last year and possess attacking quality in the form of Cork panellist Eoghan McSweeney of Anthony O’Connor.
Cill na Martra made a good impression at premier in their first year up, losing narrowly to Kanturk in the quarter-finals. They have a good spread of talent, with Cork’s Tadhg Ó Corcora, Micheál Ó Deasúna and Dan Ó Duinnín all strong performers. However, a local derby is sure to focus Naomh Abán, who had a forgettable 2019. Maidhcí Ó Duinnín and Niall Ó Ceallaigh can have an impact for the Baile Bhúirne outfit.
Cill na Martra
Eddie Goggin and Seán Kelleher, who are in Australia, are big losses for Gabriels. Mark Cronin will lead the line for the young Ballydehob/Schull side while Chris Moynihan is another influential figure. Ross Donovan, a former Cork U21 goalkeeper, has departed Nemo for Dublin, but they will still have strong players like Adrian Greaney, Eric Dilloughery, and Colm Kiely in their ranks.
Cork hurler Mark Ellis, who missed most of last season’s campaign, is likely to be back for last year’s semi-finalists Millstreet. The Duhallow side will also have Cork footballer Kevin Crowley influencing things. Adrian Murphy, Paul Kennedy, Enda Dennehy and Alan McCarthy are among those who could feature for the Barr’s.
Ballydesmond, managed by Ned English, still have former Cork sharpshooter Donncha O’Connor playing a pivotal role in attack, while Niall Fleming and Donal Kelly should be key too. Kinsale overcome Ballydesmond in the first round last year - with Gearóid Finn and Brian Coughlan their leading lights
Séamus Hickey and Jack Curtin were the stand-outs in the Rockchapel attack last year, with Eamonn O’Callaghan also impressive, and they will be keen to put one over on their divisional rivals. Dromtarriffe are without attacker Daniel O’Keeffe, who is in Australia, while long-serving stalwart Séamus O’Sullivan.
Cork attacker Cathail O’Mahony will lead the line for Mitchelstown, ably assisted by James Sheehan. Shane O’Riordan, David Pyne and Pierre O’Driscoll are likely to be influential for Glanworth, who reached the quarter-finals in 2019.