Cork GAA previews: Derbies and drama in store as hurling championship springs to life 

Denis Hurley and Eoghan Cormican preview the weekend's Co-Op Superstores Cork county championship action 
Cork GAA previews: Derbies and drama in store as hurling championship springs to life 
Luke O'Farrell, Midleton, John Kiely, Co-Op Superstores branch manager Midleton, Ger Millerick, Fr O'Neill's, and Willie Leahy, Imokilly, at the launch of the Co-Op Superstores sponsorship of the 2020 Cork County Hurling Championships. Picture: Jim Coughlan

FRIDAY

PSHC Group A: Midleton v Sars, Páirc Uí Rinn, 7.30pm (M Maher). Live on irishexaminer.com/sport/gaa.

Midleton forward Garan Manley is ruled out with a hand injury. The 2018 county finalists have a notable new addition to their management team, former Cork hurler Ben O’Connor joining the East Cork side following his successful stint with Charleville. Sars, who came out on top in last year's county U21 championship, have plenty of talented youngsters in their set-up. Forwards Liam Healy and Jack O’Connor were the mainstays of that U21 side. The pair, despite their young age, are also key members of the club’s senior attack and will be looked to here to unsettle the Midleton rearguard.

Verdict: Midleton 

SAHC Group C: Fr O’Neill’s v Kilworth, Ballynoe, 7.30pm (C Lyons).

A repeat of last year’s county premier intermediate final, which Fr O’Neill’s won by nine points. Kilworth, of course, will be keen to avoid back-to-back championship defeats - albeit nine and a half months apart - at the hands of the same opponents. To do so, they’ll need to curb the influence of Declan Dalton, Mark O’Keeffe, and Billy Dunne.

Verdict: Fr O’Neill’s 

SATURDAY

Premier SHC Group A: Douglas v Ballyhea, Mallow, 5pm, (C Lane).

Douglas are without James Holland (cruciate) and Cork footballer Mark Collins, the latter has decided to focus on just one code at club level during this truncated season. Adrian Gilligan is the new Ballyhea manager. They have plenty of emerging young talent in John Morrissey, Jamie Copps, and Tom Hanley.

Verdict: Douglas.  

Group B: Blackrock v Erin’s Own, Páirc Uí Rinn, 5pm, (C O’Regan). Live on irishexaminer.com/sport/gaa.

A number of Blackrock panellists had intended to go travelling this year, but the lockdown put a stop to that and means the Rockies management have a bigger hand to pick from. Mark Collins, Colm Coakley, and Cian O’Callaghan miss out for Erin’s Own because of injury.

Verdict: Blackrock.

Group C: Glen Rovers v St Finbarr’s, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 7.30pm, (C McAllister). Live on RTÉ 2.

Aidan Fitzpatrick has taken over from Ronan Curran as manager of the Barrs. Robert O’Mahony and Philip Kelleher are their injury worries ahead of this city derby. David Busteed and Mark Dooley are ruled out for the Glen, while Dean Brosnan and Stephen McDonnell are both rated as doubtful. Let’s hope for a contest similar to their most recent championship meeting - the 2017 Round 2 five-goal thriller.

Verdict: St Finbarr’s.

SAHC Group B: Bandon v Charleville, Mourneabbey, 5pm, (N O’Neill).

Bandon’s Aidan O’Mahony is ruled out for the remainder of the season after suffering a broken shin during last week’s football championship victory over Clyda Rovers. The club’s dual nature and large crossover of players mean there are plenty more who are carrying minor knocks into their hurling opener. Claude Gough has replaced Ben O’Connor at the helm in Charleville. Theirs is a side full of talented young players.

Verdict: Charleville.

Group C: Ballymartle v Bride Rovers, Ballincollig, 5pm, (B Sweeney).

Neither of these sides managed a championship victory last year. Indeed, it was August 12, 2018, when last both of these teams scored a championship win. Bride Rovers have injury concerns surrounding Michael Collins, DJ Cahill, and Jason Pratt. Ballymartle won two of their Division 1 league outings pre-lockdown.

Verdict: Ballymartle 

Premier IHC Group A: Courcey Rovers v Carrigaline, Kinsale, 5pm, (B Coniry).

After bringing Charleville to a replay in the 2018 county final, Courcey Rovers failed to win a championship game last year. For Carrigaline, Rob O’Shea, David Drake, and Brian Kelleher are important players.

Verdict: Carrigaline.

Group C: Inniscarra v Blarney, Coachford, 5pm, (P Lyons).

A real local derby this one. Blarney - semi-finalists in 2019 - are reportedly minus four of their regular starters because of injury, while Shane Barrett, a Cork U20 last year, is rated as doubtful.

Verdict: Blarney.

IAHC Group A: Dungourney v Argideen Rangers, Ballinora, 5pm, (J Horgan).

Both sides will be looking to build on promising 2019 campaigns. Dungourney, who lost by a point to eventual finalists Cloughduv in Round 3, were unbeaten in their two league outings before lockdown arrived in mid-March. Argideen Rangers' preparations were paused for a four-day period last month when the club temporarily halted activity because of coronavirus concerns.

Verdict: Dungourney. 

Lower IHC Group A: Ballygarvan v Russell Rovers, Riverstown, 3.30pm, (F Ó Murchu).

Russell Rovers’ first championship outing as an intermediate club. The same players who guided them out of the junior ranks - Josh Beausang, Brian Hartnett, and Luke Duggan Murphy - will again be called upon to lead the way.

Verdict: Russell Rovers.

Group C: Grenagh v Dripsey, Donoughmore, 3.30pm, (A Murphy).

Dripsey lost both of their Division 5 league outings pre-lockdown. Grenagh’s Christopher Buckley and Sean Bourke will keep the opposition defence busy.

Verdict: Grenagh.

Group C: Tracton v St Catherine’s, Carrigtwohill, 3.30pm, (M Myers).

Ciarán O’Brien (St Catherine’s) and Paul O’Riordan (Tracton) were starters on last year’s Cork minor hurling team. Both could make their respective adult championship debut at club level Saturday afternoon.

Verdict: St Catherine’s.

SUNDAY

Premier SHC Group B: Bishopstown v Newtownshandrum, Glantane, 3pm, (J Larkin).

Both of these sides reached the quarter-finals last year, Bishopstown losing to St Finbarr’s while Newtown were defeated by Glen Rovers. Tim O’Mahony, Conor Twomey and Jamie Coughlan give Newtown a strong spine while Bishopstown’s main scoring sources are likely to be Patrick Cronin and Thomas Murray with Shane O’Neill marshalling the defence.

Verdict: Newtownshandrum.

Group C: Na Piarsaigh v Carrigtwohill, Caherlag, 3pm, (S Stokes).

Na Piarsaigh have had two disappointing championship campaigns since reaching the 2017 semi-finals but they have a lot of scoring power in Evan Sheehan, Daire Connery, Shane Forde, Keith Buckley and Kelvin Forde as well as benefiting from Chris Joyce’s experience. Carrigtwohill, who reached the semi-finals last year, have Mickey Da Fitzgerald in charge. Pádraig Hogan, Aaron Walsh Barry, Tomás Hogan and Seán Rohan will be key for them.

Verdict: Na Piarsaigh.

SAHC Group A: Kanturk v Cloyne, Killavullen 2pm, (T O’Donovan).

Kanturk come in off the back of a late victory over Macroom in football last week. Despite missing Aidan and Ryan Walsh, they are still strong thanks to Anthony Nash, Darren Browne and Lorcán McLoughlin. Paudie O’Sullivan is Cloyne’s leading light, assisted by Keith Dennehy.

Group A: Newcestown v Killeagh, Páirc Uí Rinn, 2pm, (D Daly).

Newcestown enjoyed a brilliant premier senior football win over Ilen Rovers and the majority of those players will feature again for a side coached by Courcey Rovers legend Vincie Hurley alongside manager Jim O’Sullivan. Killeagh are without Patrick O’Brien but can still call on Seán Long, Eoghan Keniry and Killian Treacy.

Verdict: Newcestown. 

Group B: Mallow v Fermoy, Castletownroche, 2pm, (D Copps).

Fermoy were premier intermediate finalists in 2016 and lost no honour in a third-round defeat to eventual champions Fr O’Neills last year. Brian O’Sullivan and Pádraig de Róiste will figure but Tomás Clancy and Jack Hutchings missed the football win over Dohenys last week. Mallow will look to Seán Hayes, Cormac Murphy and Ryan Harkin.

Verdict: Fermoy. 

Premier IHC Group A: Aghada v Youghal, Killeagh, 7pm, (P O’Driscoll).

Aghada got off to a good start in the football last week and will seek inspiration from William Leahy, Pearse O’Neill, Michael Russell and Charlie Terry in this East Cork derby. Youghal, like Agahda eliminated by Carrigaline last year, are led by Bill Cooper with Seán Smiddy and Brett Moloney capable of an impact. Leigh Desmond is a possible absentee but Nigel Roche is expected back after a long-term injury.

Verdict: Youghal.

Group B: Valley Rovers v Ballinhassig, Riverstick, 2pm, (M Maher). Live on irishexaminer.com/sport/gaa.

Former Waterford star Dave Bennett is coaching Valley Rovers, who will feature much of the football team that ran Nemo Rangers close last week. Cork panellist Chris O’Leary is integral along with Kevin Canty, Ballinhassig’s hand is strengthened by the returns of Donncha O’Donovan, Michael Collins, Richard Lombard and Michael Desmond.

Verdict: Ballinhassig.

Group B: Watergrasshill v Ballincollig, Blarney, 2pm, (C Egan). 

Wategrasshill were PIHC quarter-finalists last year but came up against a strong Fr O’Neills. Their output is likely to be generated by Shane O’Regan and Shane Óg O’Regan with Seán O’Callaghan and Anthony Cronin capable operators, too. Cian Dorgan didn’t play hurling for Ballincollig last year but is back, while Liam Jennings is a considerable presence in defence and Evan Cooke and Conor O’Leary have stepped up from minor.

Verdict: Watergrasshill. 

Group C: Castlelyons v Blackrock, Lisgoold, 7pm, (J Murphy).

Castlelyons, defeat by Inniscarra in the quarter-finals last year, have a good spread of quality, with Colm Spillane, his brothers Anthony and Michael, Colm Barry and Keith O’Leary all influential. The Rockies’ second team will be backboned by the likes of Ian O’Keeffe, Colin O’Leary, Eoin O’Farrell, Alex Hogan, Ross Coleman and Joe Golden.

Verdict: Castlelyons.

IAHC Group A: Kildorrery v Mayfield, Castlelyons, 2pm, (W Wallis).

Kildorrery, who lost to Aghabullogue in the opening round of the IAFC, will be guided by Michael Walsh and Peter O’Brien. Paul Condon, Nicky Kelly and Shane O’Donovan are central figures for Mayfield, who won when the sides met in the second round of last year’s competition.

Verdict: Mayfield.

Group C: Glen Rovers v Midleton, Cobh, 4pm, (A Hyland).

A meeting of two-second teams, with the Glen side including Colin McCarthy, Ken McCarthy Coade, Keith McCarthy, Gavin Moylan and Evan O’Connell while – dependent on senior selections – Midleton could feature Kieran Mulcahy, Pádraig O’Brien and Ian Kennefick.

Verdict: Midleton.

Group B: Meelin v Douglas, Donoughmore, 4pm, (L Barry).

Meelin are without scorer-in-chief Eamonn Brosnan who is injured, but can call on Brendan O’Sullivan, TJ Brosnan, Jack Curtin and Shane Hehir. Douglas’s challenge is expected to be led by the likes of James Moylan, Shane O’Donoghue, Ian Lucey and Dylan Murphy.

Verdict: Douglas. 

Group B: Éire Óg v Sarsfields, Ballygarvan, 7pm, (E Sheehy).

Éire Óg, with former Bandon manager Niall O’Halloran in charge, will be led by Kevin Hallisey, Eoin O’Shea and John Cooper. Sars’ second team is likely to feature goalkeeper Colin Looney, Edward Gaffey, Neil Fitzpatrick, Timmy Murphy, James O’Leary and Cormac Duggan.

Verdict: Éire Óg.

Group C: Cloughduv v Aghabullogue, Ballincollig, 7pm, (A O’Connor). 

Semi-finalist last year, Aghabullogue will look to the likes of Shane Tarrant, Ian Barry-Murphy, Matthew Bradley and Sean O'Connell.

Verdict: Aghabullogue. 

Lower IHC Group A: Kilbrittain v Barryroe, Timoleague, 2pm, (M Collins). 

Kilbrittain, managed by Jamie Wall, have Ross Cashman and Maurice Sexton as influential figures in this derby. Jack Murphy and Seán Holland should contribute on the scoreboard for Barryroe, who will also have Tipperary footballer Robbie Kiely.

Verdict: Kilbrittain. 

Group B: Castlemartyr v St Finbarr’s, Riverstown, 2pm, (J McEvoy). 

Brian and Barry Lawton, Ciarán Joyce and Joe Stack will power the Castlemartyr effort while the Barrs’ side will depend on how their seniors fare. Bill O’Connell, Philip O’Brien, Paul Kennedy and Jonathan Power are likely to be involved.

Verdict: Castlemartyr. 

Group B: Ballymartle v Milford, Carraig na bhFear, 7pm, (J Hennessy). 

Henry O’Gorman, Eoin Dillon and Mark Sheehy were Milford’s stand-outs in a frustrating 2019 campaign. Their opponents Ballymartle had Barry Dwyer and Ciarán Healy on song last year but much will depend on how their senior side does Sunday evening.

Verdict: Milford.

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