THE Cork County SAHC has thrown up some splendid fare thus far and there’s every reason to believe that the best is yet to come as the temperature rises.
Fr O’Neill’s and Charleville are through to the last four on the basis of their displays at the group stage and are probably the two most fancied sides to lift the big prize in this grade on the evidence presented up to now.
But it’s all to play for all the sides and the quarter-finals over the weekend should be very revealing.
Two sides well known for their resilience and ability to dig out results. Newcestown won two of their three games and have a bagful of experience to call on but they had a lot of players involved with their footballers too and that makes it more difficult.
Luke Meade played centre-back against Cloyne and fitted in very well there. Brother Jack, Sean O’Donovan, Tadgh Twomey, Fionn Keane and Conor O’Neill are key players too in a battle-hardened unit.
Bride Rovers saw off Kilworth to reach this quarter-final but they’ll know themselves that the ante must be upped now.
They have been a mixed bag up to now, very poor against Fr O’Neill’, in particular.
But you never write them off any time. William Finnegan is very accurate from placed balls while Brian Murphy continues to serve the cause as well as he ever did.
Dan Dooley, Eoin and Brian Roche are two very good prospects but Conleith Ryan is a loss.
This is likely to be a bit of a battle and Newcestown might shade it but the Rovers are more than capable on their best day.
Kanturk have done exceptionally well under Ronan Curran and are unlucky not to have made the semi-final after winning all their three games.
They have responded very well to the former Barrs star and he’s certainly working the oracle down there.
Bandon, on the other hand, won just one of their three games but got the vital draw against Mallow to qualify.
They were involved in a very tough group and to have emerged will boost them considerably Ronan and Darren Crowley, Jason Hickey, Mark Sugrue, Mikey Cahalane and Donagh Lucey are hugely experienced and well capable of beating any side still in the chase.
But they lack consistency a bit and must be more consistent over the hour.
Anthony Nash is still the best ‘keeper in the county and a safe presence for Kanturk who have the McLoughlins, Lorcan and John, Lorcan O’Neill and John Browne back-boning the side.
They put up 5-20 against Killeagh and there is a lot going for them right now with success breeding success.
The thinking is that they might prevail here again but this Senior A championship is now a very level playing field and anything is possible.
- Verdict: Kanturk.
- SAHC relegation play-off: Killeagh v Kilworth, Ballynoe.
The stakes could not be higher here for both sides. The loser will lose their senior status and regaining it again might not be easy.
Between them they could not muster up a point at the group stage so it goes without saying, things must be much better this time for both.
Killeagh were crushed by Kanturk the last day and were very disappointed to lose to Cloyne too in an East Cork derby.
Both are probably better than they have been but now is the hour to show it.
Killeagh will be looking to Cian Fogarty, a fine club servant, Christy Coughlan, Eoghan Keniry, Dan Landers, Kevin Murphy, Sean Long and Alan Keniry.
At the outset one would have believed that this side might have done better but it hasn’t happened.
Kilworth have struggled too, they lost by only two points to Bride Rovers and might have snatched a win.
But when confidence isn’t high things end to go against you.
That wonderful servant, Kieran Walsh is still the last line of defence while Maurice McNamara, Will Condon, Liam Whelan and their main man, Noel McNamara are key players.
There will be a lot of tension in this game because of what is on the line.
Kilworth had the better points difference at the group stage but that mattered little.
Killeagh might be slightly fancied and have the players to extricate themselves from this messy situation. We’ll give them a very tentative vote.
- Verdict: Killeagh.