Rebel Óg minor games put young players back in the spotlight for Cork panels

Rebel Óg minor games put young players back in the spotlight for Cork panels
Ethan Twomey, St Finbarr's, breaking past Glen Rovers players Ryan Long and Danny Murphy in their Rebel Óg P1 match at Pairc Úi Rinn last season. Picture: Dan Linehan

THIS is the calm before the GAA storm on Leeside.

The Bank Holiday weekend marks the start of a rammed schedule of matches to complete the football and hurling club championships, with ladies football and camogie thrown into the mix as well. Minor action will run across the coming months on Wednesday nights.

All dependent of course on Covid-19 not bringing everything to a grinding halt again.

While inter-county managers are frustrated with the ban on any official gatherings of their panels until September 14, they should make the most of being able to see players feature in a run of meaningful matches before the provincial and All-Ireland series.

Challenge games are grand to gauge form but the intensity of championship, where club's inter-county representatives are under pressure to shine, is for more realistic. 

For the county minor managers Bobbie O'Dwyer, defending the All-Ireland football crown with a largely new squad and facing into a knockout trip to Kerry, and Donal Óg Cusack, who has a one-year term as hurling bainisteoir, this will be especially useful.

Being drawn away to the Kingdom is daunting for the footballers, particularly as they don't have a forward as generational as Conor Corbett this time around. Cusack has an extended panel packed with gifted young hurlers but the general consensus is that the crop of 2021, who will be managed by Noel Furlong, is stronger. 

Donal Óg has three All-Ireland winning hurlers in his set-up: Seán Óg Ó hAilpín, Tom Kenny and Kieran 'Fraggie' Murphy. They must guide Cork past Clare and Limerick to make the provincial final. 

Last summer Cork showed flashes of real promise in the round-robin format only to get caught late on in their last game away to Clare, which knocked them out. It was a galling result but the Banner didn't show Cork an ounce of respect up in Ennis and ground out the narrow win required in the dying minutes.

As minor is now U17, the standout hurlers turning 18 this year will still be crucial for their clubs in the Rebel Óg championships, which will be group stages followed by semi-finals. St Finbarr's appear serious contenders for P1 honours with deadly dual forward Jack Cahalane and former Cork minor captain Ethan Twomey backed by their county winning U16s, including Ben Cunningham and William Buckley. 

Ben Cunningham, St Finbarr's in action against Ballincollig. Picture: Larry Cummins.
Ben Cunningham, St Finbarr's in action against Ballincollig. Picture: Larry Cummins.

The hugely experienced Brian Cunningham is at the helm in Togher. They're in a group with Douglas, Ballincollig and Ibane Gaels, an amalgamation of Argideen Rangers in Timoleague and nearby Barryroe. 

The other group is even more loaded: Midleton and the Glen, who shared the last two titles, alongside Sars and Blackrock.

Ibane Gaels are also P1 in football and include two Cork All-Ireland winning minors in Jack Lawton and Ryan O'Donovan. They're in an unusual group alongside Inniscarra, usually a hurling stronghold, Beara and Gabriel Rangers, drawing players from Schull and Ballydehob.

Liam O'Connell, in action for Coláiste Choilm, will be a key player for Ballincollig. Picture: Larry Cummins 
Liam O'Connell, in action for Coláiste Choilm, will be a key player for Ballincollig. Picture: Larry Cummins 

The other group is made up of regular P1 minor football clubs Douglas, Ballincollig, Nemo and Glanmire. Douglas were minor champions in 2019, while Ballincollig lifted the silverware at U16.

Bord Gáis Energy Munster U20 Hurling Championship 

Wednesday, October 21: Quarter-finals: Tipperary v Clare; Cork v Kerry.

Tuesday, October 27: Semi-final: Limerick v Cork/Kerry.

Wednesday, October 28: Semi-final: Waterford v Tipperary/Clare.

Final on Wednesday, November 11.

Electric Ireland Munster Minor Football 

Saturday, October 24: Quarter-finals: Clare v Tipperary; Limerick v Waterford 

Saturday, November 7: Semi-finals: Kerry v Cork; Clare/Tipperary v Limerick/Waterford 

Final on the weekend of November 14/15 

Electric Ireland Munster Minor Hurling 

Saturday, October 17: Quarter-final: Cork v Clare 

Sunday, October 18: Quarter-final: Kerry v Tipperary 

Saturday, October 31: Semi-finals: Waterford v Kerry/Tipperary; Limerick v Cork/Clare 

Final on the weekend of November 14/15

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