IT MAY be the fourth tier of the county football championship, but the intermediate grade is awash with some serious talent.
Take Cathail O’Mahony as an example. He was one of Cork’s stars in the All-Ireland U20 triumph last season and has made the transition to senior with the minimum of fuss. The Mary Immaculate College student is the stand-out player for his club Mitchelstown in their group 1 game against Glanworth in Mallow on Sunday.
Yet, even O’Mahony’s presence may not be enough to get his side off to a winning start against seasoned opponents.
It’s a competitive section also containing Millstreet and St Finbarr’s second string, who hope the seniors won’t delve too deeply this evening against Ballincollig. Millstreet could have Cork senior Kevin Crowley available while Shane Hickey, another defender, was a colleague of O’Mahony with the U20s.
The Duhallow club reached the last four in 2019, going under heavily to the eventual champions Knocknagree.
There’s a very strong north-west presence in group 2 with Dromtarriffe, Rockchapel, and Ballydesmond joining Kinsale.
Dromtarriffe and Rockchapel should be an interesting affair in Kiskeam on Sunday.
Dromtarriffe also reached the semi-finals last season, losing by a point to Gabriel Rangers.
Their team is built around Sean Howard, Conor O’Callaghan, and Daniel O’Keeffe while the Rock parade Seamus Hickey and Eamon O’Callaghan.
As ever, local derbies are a law onto themselves, especially with the current crowd restrictions, so anything is possible.
Ballydesmond and Kinsale is a repeat of last season, when the fishing town won by 1-15 to 0-14.
Yet, the team they might all have to beat to lift the crown at the end of the season is Kilshannig, last season’s junior champions.
They have the O’Hanlon brothers: Killian, who is at midfield for the Cork seniors, and Eanna, who lined out in the same role for the U20s.
Throw in Brian Guerin, Kieran Twomey, and Conor McMahon, among others, and Kilshannig are a force to be reckoned with in 2020.
They’re in group 4 along with Aghabullogue and Kildorrery. Paul Ring was an All-Ireland U20 winner with the Coachford club.
All four teams making up group 1, Glenville, Ballinora, Mayfield, and Adrigole will fancy their prospects of filling the top two positions for the knock-out phase.