New format for club GAA in Cork guarantees us a few hurling classics

New format for club GAA in Cork guarantees us a few hurling classics
Blackrock's Michael O'Halloran collects the ball against Newtownshandrum's Darragh Guiney. Picture: Gavin Browne

INTERESTING, to say the least.

That would have to be viewpoint in the aftermath of Tuesday night’s draws for next season’s revamped Cork County Championships.

It’s a brand new format and with anything new there is always going to be plenty of enthusiasm and anticipation.

It’s very much a case of nothing ventured, nothing gained and a glance at the groupings in the Premier SHC is sure to generate plenty of debate over the coming weeks.

Group 1 consists of Midleton, Sarsfields, Douglas and Ballyhea with Ballyhea, despite reaching the quarter-final this year, going to be the lesser fancied of that quartet. Both Midleton and Douglas will be hoping for better things in 2020 having made their exit in the third-round, Midleton to Imokilly and Douglas to Sars.

Sars were eliminated at the quarter-final stage by Imokilly while Ballyhea lost to Carrigtwohill in the quarter-final.

In fact, of the four Ballyhea had probably more reason for satisfaction after being trounced in their opening round game by Blackrock.

The group guarantees you a potentially cracking East Cork derby between Midleton and Sars and there is plenty of potential for some fine games in the group overall with the two East Cork teams probably the slight fancies to reach the quarter-final with Douglas next best.

But that’s far from being a guarantee.

Tracey Kennedy and Kevin O'Donovan making the draws. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Tracey Kennedy and Kevin O'Donovan making the draws. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Group 2 is probably, on paper, the most competitive of the three groups, Blackrock, Erin’s Own, Bishopstown and Newtownshandrum.

Selecting two from that four to make the quarter-final won’t be easy even if the Rockies will be the most fancied team.

They lost to Newtown this year so they’ll be very wary against them again.

If you had to select the top two right now you might opt for both with a right battle for the third spot between the ‘Town and Erin’s Own.

The third group is loaded with plenty of potential with a few Northside, Southside city derbies thrown in and Carrigtwohill the outsiders.

The Glen should be in the top two, joined by Na Piarsaigh or the ‘Barrs with Carrigtwohill hoping to throw a spanner in the works again.

So, for what it’s worth, a long-range forecast, here’s our six teams from the three groups to reach the last eight: Midleton, Sars, Blackrock, Newtown, the Glen and the ‘Barrs.

In the Senior A competition all the three groups are interesting.

This season’s Premier Intermediate winners Fr O’Neill’s won’t have it easy against Ballymartle, Bride Rovers and the team that they beat in the PIHC final, Kilworth.

You are guaranteed another East Cork derby between themselves and Bride Rovers.

That’s in Group Three while in Group Two it’s going to be ultra-competitive with Bandon, Charleville, Mallow and Fermoy, ensuring that you have some potentially fierce North Cork encounters.

Try and select two to reach the quarter-final from that four.

There’s another East Cork derby in Group One with Cloyne and Killeagh going to be facing off and Newcestown and Kanturk joining them.

No easy games between that lot.

Again, the long-range forecast for the six qualifiers for the last eight are Newcestown, Killeagh, Bandon, Charleville, Fr O’Neill’s and Bride Rovers To the Premier intermediate championship and its three groups. Nothing much will be different this time because all three groups will be a minefield.

In Group 1 you will have derby games in East Cork and Carrigdhoun featuring Aghada and Youghal and Courceys and Carrigaline.

Group 2 looks to be a very even battleground with Valley Rovers, Ballincollig, Ballinhassig and Watergrasshill while in Group Three, newcomers Blackrock are in with Inniscarra, Blarney and Castlelyons.

We won’t even try to come up with the six who will make it to the last eight but from Group 1 Courceys should be okay, in Group 2 Valley Rovers should be thereabouts while in the third group we’ll stick the neck out with Blarney and Castlelyons.

Anthony Spillane, Castlelyons, about hit the net this season as he gets past Inniscarra players Brian O’Mahony and John O’Callaghan. Picture: Dan Linehan
Anthony Spillane, Castlelyons, about hit the net this season as he gets past Inniscarra players Brian O’Mahony and John O’Callaghan. Picture: Dan Linehan

To the two grades of Intermediate A and lower, both are again going to have playing fields loaded with mines.

In the A group you should have a fine Mid Cork derby featuring Cloughduv and Aghabullogue.

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