HISTORY will be made this evening with the meeting of Clyda Rovers and Bandon in the first game in the new county senior ‘A’ football championship in Ballyanley at 7.30pm.
The second-tier competition is also based on three groups of four teams, comprising seven with a long history in the top flight and five who were in the premier intermediate.
Group 2 looks the most competitive, featuring Kiskeam and Mallow who lost their senior status last season, Eire Og, the premier intermediate champions, along with Bantry Blues, another club with a strong senior tradition.
Both opening round games are on tomorrow with Kiskeam and Mallow squaring up in Kanturk and Eire Og and Bantry clashing in Ballingeary.
Kiskeam and Mallow met in the opening round of the senior championship last year with victory going the Duhallow club’s way, 2-11 to 0-10.
They needed to overcome Ballincollig at the next stage to retain any hopes of remaining in the section, but lost by 0-17 to 1-9.
Kiskeam’s better known players are goalkeeper Anthony Casey, who is part of Ronan McCarthy’s Cork set-up, and defender Sean Meehan, an All-Ireland U20 winner in 2019.
Despite overwhelming St Nick’s in their opening game, Mallow’s one-point defeat by Newcestown in the next game meant they would be accompanying Kiskeam.
The north Cork club have a nice blend of experience in the shape of Cork’s James Loughrey and Mattie Taylor while Ryan Harkin has also worn the red jersey.
Both sides will be familiar with one another, so expect a tight contest with the issue set to go the distance.
On paper Eire Og appear well stocked to make a serious impression in following up last season’s success.
Their side is dotted with players with Cork experience, ranging from keeper Chris Kelly to John Mullins in defence, Ronan O’Toole at midfield to Ciaran Sheehan, Colm O’Callaghan and Daniel Goulding in attack.
As with the other game, Eire Og and Bantry also collided last season in an epic semi-final with the Ovens club edging it by 2-16 to 3-11.
Ruairi Deane’s availability would be a major plus for the west Cork club, whose spirit and resilience are renowned.
Stephen Coughlan and the Caseys, Kevin and James, were prominent 12 months ago.
This, too, promises to be a fascinating encounter with Eire Og getting the nod, but expect it to be close.
Clyda and Bandon are joined by Dohenys and Fermoy in Group 3.
Clyda lost heavily to St Finbarr’s and Ballincollig last term and will look to bounce back against a Bandon side, which lost to Bantry in a replayed quarter-final.
Peter Murphy has Cork experience while Mark Sugrue is a capable scorer and Bandon would seem well-placed to make a winning start.
Both Dohenys and Fermoy slipped out of the top tier, the Dunmanway club ending a long sequence in the championship.
They defeated St Nick’s and pushed Nemo Rangers all the way before losing by five points with a team with lots of potential.
All-Ireland U20 winner Fionn Herlihy represents the long-term future of the club while Eoin Lavers at centre-back and midfielders Johnny Kelly and Cathal O’Donovan also impressed in 2019.
Fermoy’s stay in senior lasted just one season after sensationally defeating Castlehaven by 1-9 to 0-11 in round 1, but a galling one-point loss to Ilen ended their campaign.
The Clancys, Tomas and Padraig, and Padraig de Roiste are some of the mainstays in the side.
Group 1 has two city clubs, Nick’s and St Michael’s, the reigning U21 champions, as well as O’Donovan Rossa and Ballingeary.
Nick’s lost to Dohenys and Mallow while Skibbereen were pipped by Clonakilty after extra-time.
Kevin Davis and Elliott Connolly are big threats to the city club.
SFC’A’ Group 3: Clyda Rovers v Bandon, Ballyanley, 7.30.
Group 2: Eire Og v Bantry Blues, Ballingeary, 3pm; Kiskeam v Mallow, Kanturk, 3pm.
Group 1: O’Donovan Rossa v St Nick’s, Brinny, 3.30; St Michael’s v Ballingeary, Ovens, 7.30.
Group 3: Dohenys v Fermoy, Coachford, 3pm.