THERE is an action-packed weekend in store as the SE Systems Cork senior camogie championship commences.
The long-awaited championship means that we have a full calendar for the next nine weeks as the 17 teams involved fight it out for the coveted Punch Shoecare Cup.
Courcey Rovers and Cloughduv are first up in Castle Road on Saturday.
Courcey’s had a topsy-turvy year in 2019. They started the championship so well, with a mammoth victory over Milford, 6-23 to 0-5, but in turn, shipped a heavy defeat to St Finbarr's 5-12 to 1-5.
Plagued with injury and losing Jacinta Crowley and Fiona Keating the week of the game was a stretch too far and you’d expect them to be a more efficient side as they face a Cloughduv team which lost their opening round narrowly to Carbery and back door to St Catherine's.
Carbery were a tough outfit to whom Cloughduv lost narrowly and despite having a young side and being without Briege Corkery they will leave everything on the pitch.
Milford and Éire Óg meet in Coachford. Éire Óg gave a very commendable account of themselves in their first year in senior ranks. They face a Milford side rebuilding, with Elaine O’Riordan another retiree of that great team earlier in the decade. They still have the formidable Ashling Thompson who will take some watching but Éire Óg with a spirited approach can give this a right rattle.
Killeagh had such a great 2019, falling at the semi-final stage after a pulsating replay to Inniscarra. With three Cork senior players and all clubs feeling the benefit of having their intercounty players training with them, Killeagh are becoming a very strong force.
More is needed from their forwards though if they want to go a step further in 2020. Senior debutants Newcestown will have it all to do but they are a dogged side who won’t be found wanting in the desire department. A hard-working hour is required to make life difficult for the East Cork side.
On Sunday we have three great clashes. St. Finbarrs and Douglas start the day in Castle Road. The Barrs are making steady progress, reaching their first semi-final in 10 years last season. They lost out to Sars by four points. They need clinical finishers up front and can’t over-rely on Keeva McCarthy.
It was frighteningly obvious how much Douglas missed Katrina Mackey last year. She lifts the entire team and with Pamela Mackey and Julia White they can run the show. Clashes between these two sides rarely disappoint.
Inniscarra will be strong contenders again. They welcome the return of Joanne Casey and Aoife Kavanagh returns from injury. Inniscarra aren’t represented on the Cork senior panel this season after Niamh McCarthy withdrew and with their full panel, 100% club focused on regaining the title, who would bet against them.
Ballincollig had a good season against strong opposition in 2019. They narrowly lost to Glen Rovers in the opening round, beat Muskerry 3-14 to 0-8 in the backdoor and subsequently lost to Carbery by four points, 1-17 to 1-13. If they can build on those performances this could be a close encounter.
Sars v Glen Rovers could be the game of the weekend. Emer O’Farrell isn’t lining out and that news would give a lift to any opposition but Sars have such a conveyor belt of stars and with last year’s title surely raising standards by another 10% they are potential champions again.
The Glen have a balanced outfit if needing to be more clinical up front. They are without Emma Akinkouli through injury but with plenty heart and fight could put it up to the champions.
Ballygarvan and St Catherine's meet on Monday. Ballygarvan are a young side, still developing but with talent. Many of the team have a minor B and two minor A titles tucked away and that winning mentality should bring confidence to the pitch against a Catherine's side without their backbone of many years, Orla Cotter.
But St Catherine's will start as favourites.
Courcey Rovers v Cloughduv, Castle Road, 2pm; Milford v Éire Óg, Coachford, 2pm; Killeagh v Newcestown, Castle Road, 6pm.
St Finbarr's v Douglas, Castle Road, 2.30pm; Inniscarra v Ballincollig, Éire Óg, 5pm; Sarsfields v Glen Rovers, Castleroad, 6.30pm
Ballygarvan v St Catherine's, Castle Road, 4pm.