Cork Harlequins head into today’s Irish Senior Cup clash with Banbridge at Farmer’s Cross (1.30pm) under a cloud after losing to Bandon for the first time in 19 years on Thursday night.
This has long been earmarked as a transitional season for the Farmer’s Cross men but they were nonetheless stunned to go down 1-0 at home to the West Cork men, who wildly celebrated a first victory since 1994.
David Smith’s strike seven minutes from time — coming after Alastair Smith’s scything 70-metre run — leaves Quins needing to regroup for the visit of in-form Banbridge, whose 100% record in Ulster includes a 5-0 away mauling of rivals Cookstown.
Elsewhere, UCC are on a hiding to nothing as they travel to face holders Monkstown. It’s a second visit to Dublin in a week for the students having played four games in three days at the intervarsities, although a number of the Rathdown outfit’s star players were involved too with DIT.
UCC were trounced 9-0 by YMCA this time last year on the back of a varsities win in Cork, so will be looking to avoid a similar collapse.
Also travel-weary will be UCC’s women, who also had varsity commitments and have even further to go, as they take on fellow students Queen’s University.
All Munster teams will be hoping Ulster isn’t a graveyard for their ambitions; Cork Harlequins face their Belfast namesakes, third in the Ulster League ahead of the likes of Ballymoney and Ulster Elks, while Catholic Institute visit Ards, who currently lead the way in northern province.
In Munster’s senior women’s league, two early-season six-pointers at the table’s lower end take place amid an umpires shortage. Most of the province’s limited number of top-class umpires are on Irish Senior Cup duty meaning clubs will have to provide their own. Bandon host Fermoy while there’s a Treaty City derby between UL and Limerick, while C of I’s clash with Ashton sees both bidding for early supremacy in mid-table.
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