WE are down to the final four in this year’s Cork intermediate football championship and two eagerly anticipated semi-finals should produce plenty of drama.
Glanmire take on Donoughmore whilst west Cork neighbours Rosscarbery and Clonakilty clash in the second of two IFC semi-finals next weekend.
Ross and Clon are no strangers to one another at this grade and should produce a high-quality local derby. The two sides previously met at the same juncture in last year’s intermediate championship where Rosscarbery emerged with a one-point victory. Inch Rovers proved too strong for the latter in the decider however, running out 2-10 to 3-4 winners.
That loss coupled with other recent heartbreaks at the final hurdle has fuelled Rosscarbery’s 2020 campaign. The west cork side has been in imperious form, defeating Beara, Donoughmore and Bantry Blues en-route to the semi-finals.
Anchored by a solid defence and in-form midfielders Sarah Hayes and Fiona O’Callaghan, Ross deservedly topped their group on maximum points. Add in Laura Mac Mahon, Ciara Whooley, Máire O’Brien and Cáit Mennis’ combined scoring ability and David Creedon’s squad are more than capable of making a swift return to another IFC decider.
Arch rivals Clonakilty will have plenty to say about that.
The Ahamilla-based club suffered defeat to Glanmire in their group opener before bushing aside Araglen Desmonds Buí to make it through to the semi-finals. A 5-14 to 0-9 score-line in the win over Araglen was an impressive tally. Yet, JJ Santry’s side know they will need to produce the performance of their season to have any chance of knocking out Rosscarbery.
Inter-county goalkeeper Martina O’Brien brings plenty of experience to a youthful Clon setup in which former Cork U14 All-Ireland winning captain Millie Condon has made her mark this year. Condon scored 2-3 in her team’s previous outing and she, along with Áine O’Leary, Moira Barrett, Claire O’Leary, Orla Deasy and Ciara Ryan will be pivotal to Clonakilty’s hopes of causing a surprise.
This year’s second IFC semi-final pits 2019 All-Ireland junior champions Donoughmore against the favourites for the 2020 intermediate trophy, Glanmire. Kate Hannon, Annaliese Murphy, Orla Roche and Ellen Murphy are just some of the names amongst an exciting crop of players that helped last year’s county semi-finalists surge to the forefront of this season’s campaign.
No strangers to national success themselves, the East Cork club’s unforgettable 2018 All-Ireland junior final victory over Sligo’s Tourlestrane in Ballinasloe is still fresh in the memory. That was also an afternoon the aforementioned Hannon contributed 0-11 of her side’s winning total.
Last year, Glanmire found the move from junior to intermediate tough going but managed to reach a county semi-final on the back of consecutive draws with Beara and Rosscarbery. A battle-hardened Inch Rovers proved a step too far in the last four, however, even though Glanmire put in a commendable performance before going down 2-7 to 1-10 after extra-time.
Standing in the East Cork club’s way of county glory is another recent Cork-based All-Ireland junior champion. Donoughmore created plenty of headlines during 2019 by claiming county and Munster honours before seeing off Crossmolina’s MacHale Rovers to win the All-Ireland junior crown.
11-time All-Ireland senior football championship and seven-time All-Ireland senior camogie winner Rena Buckley is still the first name on the Donoughmore team sheet. Yet, this is far from a one-woman team.
Aileen Buckley, Jenny Brew Dinan, Amanda Green, Michelle Dilworth, Aisling Barrett, Emer Walsh and Aoife Barrett have featured prominently during a campaign in which Donoughmore edged Bantry by a point, lost 3-8 to 0-9 to Rosscarbery and defeated Beara to qualify for the penultimate round.
Much will depend on Buckley’s free-taking ability against a strong Glanmire side but Donoughmore have nothing to lose and will relish their underdog status.
So, both semi-finals are packed with some of Cork LGFA’s brightest up and coming footballers. Add in experienced inter-county stalwarts on all four line-ups and there is much to look forward to in next weekend’s last four encounters.
Current form points to a Rosscarbery victory over their west Cork neighbours Clonakilty whilst Glanmire’s greater attacking threat is expected to see them past Donoughmore. Glanmire versus Rosscarbery would have all the makings of a mouth-watering county decider.