IT would be some feat for Newcestown to make the knock-out stage in the Bon Secours premier senior football championship after also qualifying in senior A hurling.
Their fate will be determined against the 2016 champions Carbery Rangers in the decisive Group 2 game in Ballinascarthy on Sunday at 2pm.
As many as a dozen players usually start in both codes and given this will be their sixth championship game since late July, it reflects brilliantly on Newcestown as a club.
Their mission is quite simple, avoid defeat and they will join Castlehaven at the business end of the season. It’s a must-win game for the Rosscarbery club, who’ve an inferior scoring difference with both sides on two points apiece.
That’s due in the main to Newcestown’s 3-17 to 1-7 victory over Ilen Rovers in game one, when Carthach Keane led a plethora of scorers by registering 2-1, ahead of Cian Healy’s 0-4.
The hurlers’ win over Cloyne last weekend added to the feelgood factor and Newcestown will rightly believe they’ve every chance of remaining on course for a semi-final spot, just like last season.
Part of that reasoning emanates from Carbery Rangers’ current form, which has been patchy even accounting for injuries to key players like John O’Rourke and John Hayes.
Neither started in the 0-14 to 0-9 defeat by the Haven, though Hayes came on for the last 15 minutes, but O’Rourke’s return for the Ilen game underlined his importance to the cause. He kicked four points from play to add to Seamus Hayes’s five as Ross eventually won by 0-14 to 0-8.
Ilen prop up the table and look to be heading for the relegation play-off even if results elsewhere might rescue them.
They’ve a mammoth challenge against the Haven in Ballydehob, having only posted 1-7 and 0-8 in their two games to-date.
Brothers Brian and Michael Hurley along with Mark Collins have the ability to cause more headaches for an Ilen defence that has conceded 3-31.
Another west Cork club, Clonakilty, also have a date with destiny against Group 1 leaders St Finbarr’s in Coachford, also on Sunday at 2pm.
The city club lead the way with four points following wins over Ballincollig and Carrigaline and the 2018 champions should maintain their winning streak.
The scoring exploits of Steven Sherlock and Cillian Myers-Murray, who’ve 2-23 between them, will occupy the attentions of defenders Tom Clancy and Maurice Shanley in this must-win game for Clon.
The ’Barr’s had over half-a-dozen involved with the hurlers last weekend and their win over Carrigtwohil brings even more added belief. Captain Ian Maguire is a powerhouse once more around the middle and there’s a solidity about the defence which provides further evidence of the Togher club’s prospects.
Clon disappointed in the 2-17 to 1-10 loss to Ballincollig last time out and clearly a big improvement is required, especially in helping lift the scoring burden from newcomer Dara Ó Sé.
Ballincollig, the 2014 champions, are sure to be cock-a-hoop going into their concluding game with Carrigaline at Páirc Uí Rinn. They’re level on points with Clon, but enjoy a seven-point advantage in scoring difference, so everything is in their favour.
Cian Dorgan and Darren Murphy, who combined for 1-13 the last day, are renowned finishers with Pa Kelly the ace supplier and distributor of quality ball.
Hurling is in vogue in Carrigaline, whose footballers face a big struggle to avoid the relegation play-offs even if Eanna Desmond and Jack McCarthy are on form.
There’s also a predictable look to Group 3, where the defending champions Nemo Rangers are the dominant force.
They’re heading for the semi-finals, where they proved too strong for neighbours Douglas last season and Nemo should have too much again at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday.
Valley Rovers should clinch the other spot against bottom club Bishopstown, particularly if Fiachra Lynch fires.
PSFC Group 1: St Finbarr’s v Clonakilty, Coachford; Ballincollig v Carrigaline, Páirc Uí Rinn.
Group 2: Carbery Rangers v Newcestown, Ballinascarthy; Castlehaven v Ilen Rovers, Ballydehob.
Group 3: Nemo Rangers v Douglas, Páirc Uí Chaoimh; Valley Rovers v Bishopstown, Ballinora. All 2pm.