In the five years they’ve been plying their trade at senior level, the footballers of Carbery Rangers and Ilen Rovers have never crossed paths in championship.
Tonight’s opening 2011 Cork senior championship clash has a novel air to it then. Both teams have enjoyed rapid progress over the last decade and there has been a symmetry to that development. Ilen Rovers claimed junior county honours in 2001 and the intermediate title in 2003 with Carbery Rangers following in their footsteps with a junior win in 2003 and an intermediate success in 2005. Since their 2008 county final appearance, Ilen Rovers have not managed to return to those heights. Their aspirations this season have been hit by the loss of experienced figures like Fachtna Collins and Diarmuid Duggan. The return of DavidCoughlan, who missed last year’s fourth round defeat to Clonakilty, is a major boost while Conor O’Driscoll and Kevin O’Sullivan will have pivotal roles to play as well. There can also call on some bright young talents in Cork U21 panellists Danny O’Donovan and Alan Holland, and Cork minor attacking star Dan MacEoin.
But this is a difficult task for Ilen Rovers without established players of the last few years and while Carbery Rangers are without Kevin McMahon, who is suffering from a broken jaw, last year’s semi-finalists look better placed. Cork senior James Fitzpatrick will give them a grip at midfield while Michael Mennis and Brian Shanahan anchor their defensive effort. In attack John O’Rourke is a strong running option in the half-forward line while John and Seamus Hayes provide seriousfirepower close to goal.
Key Men: Carbery Rangers — John Hayes; Ilen Rovers — Kevin O’Sullivan.
Championship Odds: Carbery Rangers 14/1, Ilen Rovers 33/1.
Did You Know: Carbery Rangers forward John Hayes has finished runner-up to Donncha O’Connor in the senior football championship scoring charts for the past two years.
Verdict: Carbery Rangers