FOUR mouth-watering clashes to look forward to this weekend in the SE Systems senior championship quarter-finals at Castle Road.
First up on Saturday is the tie of St Catherine's and Courcey Rovers. It’s been five weeks since St Catherine's have been in competitive action, having defeated Ballygarvan in the opening round and receiving a bye in round four taking them directly to the quarter-final. Courceys on the other hand have two games behind them with an opening victory over Cloughduv and an additional win against Newcestown, two weeks ago.
Even though Rovers had a 3-14 to 2-6 winning margin Newcestown are a dogged outfit and that game will stand to the quarter-finalists. They are an in-form side with talent in every line and a forward line many would envy. St Catherine's are a very experienced side with many long-established names.
Finola Neville will bring a hard-working hour to the pitch and alongside Carolyn Motherway, Rachel O’Callaghan, Laura Hayes, Evelyn Ronayne and the stylish Aoife Hurley, St Catherine's will match Courcey Rovers' talent. Rovers do seem to have more potential scorers up front and if they fire on all cylinders Catherine's will have their hands full defensively.
Killeagh and St Finbarr's are the second Saturday game. Killeagh have strong hopes of going all the way this year and backboned by three senior inter-county stars, Hannah Looney, Laura Treacy and Chloe Sigerson they have the foundations. Add in Niamh O’Keeffe and Ciara Daly amongst others and they certainly have the side to compete for the title.
Killeagh have amassed 3-37 from two games with 1-19 coming from frees and giving away frees to the accurate Sigerson is something St Finbarr's will need to watch. Lining out at full-forward Killeagh are pining a lot on Chloe being the answer to their lack of scoring prowess in 2019.
The Barrs are another side to receive a bye to the quarter-final therefore their last outing was against Douglas in early August. They looked in control of that game during the opening half before a tightly fought second meant they had to pull out all the stops to advance. Killeagh have a strong defence and it’s difficult to see how the Barrs will penetrate that. They rely heavily on Keeva McCarthy.
Attacking and scoring half-backs and midfielders will be important for both sides. Killeagh have that, particularly in Looney and Treacy. The Barrs of course have it in Gemma O’Connor, Meabh Cahalane and Linda O’Connell. It’ll be an interesting one.
The county finalists of 2017 meet again when Glen Rovers and Inniscarra throw-in at 1pm on Sunday. Inniscarra have kept their consistency, champions again in 2018 and losing out to Sarsfields in the 2019 final.
The Glen’s fortunes haven’t been as fruitful. But Glen Rovers are a much more balanced and fired up outfit this season and have two big scalps behind them with impressive wins over Sarsfields and Seandún.
Those games and how the Glen had to dig deep, particularly in extra time against Seandún should show them just how good they are and they should carry that belief into a tough battle with Inniscarra. Inniscarra of course have the talented Joanne Casey and Aoife Kavanagh back in the side but that has been somewhat negated by the loss of Niamh McCarthy who has a cruciate injury for the third time.
What an awful disappointing blow that is to Niamh personally and to Inniscarra. But this game should be a cracker.
The Glen are progressing in this championship the hard way, there's been no easy round and they are standing tall. They gave Inniscarra a two-goal start in the opening four minutes three years ago.
They failed to get out of the blocks early. They lost that final by those two goals. How has each team improved since then?
Time will tell.
Last up is Douglas-Éire Óg. What a transformation in Douglas since their opening round defeat. That in itself must add a huge impetus to their training.
Add in the fact that they had two strong wins over Ballincollig and Sarsfields and they’ll go in as favourites against Éire Óg who had an impressive win over Milford in round one but unfortunately haven’t seen championship action since.
They’d have liked more.
FIXTURES, all Castle Road:
St Catherine's v Courcey Rovers, 2pm; Killeagh v St Finbarr's, 5pm.
Glen Rovers v Inniscarra, 1pm; Éire Óg v Douglas 5pm.