Clonmel appeared to have one hand on retaining their Division One crown, but last weekend’s surprise defeat at home to Clonakilty now leaves the path open for other teams, including opponents this weekend, Richmond.
Clonmel failed to secure a bonus point and now lie three points behind Bandon, this re-fixture being their game in hand. A Clonmel loss could put the Cork team in pole position for the title. Richmond will have an extra pep in their step following Clonmel’s defeat and they also have a game in hand after this weekend. A win would bring them back in the hunt after a number of recent slip-ups. Richmond enjoyed a hard-fought victory over Kilfeacle and will have confidence from their Challenge Cup victory at Clonmel before Christmas.
If their powerful pack can dictate the tempo, they may snatch victory.
St Mary’s and Clonakilty both enjoyed superb victories last weekend, but are still fearing relegation. Clon produced one of their best performances to defeat Clonmel away, with the experienced Mark Purcell leading the way. St Mary’s impressed as they overcame a strong Skibbereen side. Home advantage will help the Clon cause.
The other league match taking place pits sides at the opposite end of the table as St Senan’s host Galbally in a game transferred to Ennis. Having lost their two opening games, Galbally have won their last nine.
In Division Two, Thurles still have an outside chance of gaining a promotion spot, with two games in hand on Cobh and Abbeyfeale. To achieve that they must get maximum points from their remaining games, starting with a tough trip to Presentation. At the other end of the table, Mallow host Tralee with the winner set to secure their Division Two spot next season. Mallow have put in some big performances of late and should continue that form against their Kerry rivals.
At the bottom, Dungarvan are unlikely to survive but after an upturn in form, will fancy their chances of getting a first win over Ennis and bring the Clare side to Division Three with them. Castleisland travel to Ballincollig in a mid-table clash.
In the Bank of Ireland Munster Junior Cup, Bandon host Skibbereen in a huge derby. Skibb defeated the hosts in a thrilling opening league game but Bandon are brimming with confidence and should progress. Cork Con remain one of the fancies and take on struggling Old Christians. The Rathcooney team can pull out a performance, as demonstrated when they drew with Clonmel.