TWO East Cork derby games in the Cork County PIHC was one of the main features of the 2018 draw last night.
Fr O’Neill’s will take in Aghada while Youghal will face Castlelyons.
Aghada, of course, were elevated to the higher tier of the championship a few short months ago and will relish the opportunity of crossing swords with a near neighbour.
O’Neill’s, beaten by Ballinhassig, last season, are already regarded as one of the more fancied teams in the competition which is considered to have a very level playing field of participants.
They won the IHC in 2016 and with their young players now a year older and wiser they are entitled to be ranked as one of the main contenders.
However, an East Cork derby takes on a life of its own and Aghada were very impressive in succeeding them as champions this season.
Youghal’s demotion after being in the bottom two in the SHC for two years running fought in the boardroom to retain their senior status but the regulations of the County Board ruled that out.
Now they must reinvent themselves in the PIHC and they won’t find Castlelyons easy in their opener.
Backboned by players like Colm and Anthony Spillane, Colm and Jack Barry, they found themselves in the relegation squabble a few months ago but came through that after defeating Tracton.
Earlier in the season, they were involved in a very high scoring encounter with O’Neill’s, losing on a scoreline of 5-17 to 3-20.
This season’s beaten finalists, Mallow will be meeting up with Cloyne again in a repeat of their semi-final encounter which they won by four points.
The clash of Valley Rovers and Blarney is, of course, a repeat clash from this season and their game was the first match to be played in the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh and drew an attendance of over 10,000.
Courcey Rovers will take on Inniscarra in their opener, the latter hoping to do a lot better than was the case this season when they were beaten by Watergrasshill in one of the two relegation play-offs.
Fermoy, another one of the more fancied teams going forward will tackle Carrigaline in their first game of the 2018 championship and this will be difficult to find a resolution to when the time comes.
There’s a tasty North Cork derby as well with Kilworth paired alongside Charleville.
Charleville lost to the eventual champions Kanturk in this year’s quarter-final while Kilworth lost out to Cloyne.
Ballinhassig, beaten semi-finalists this year, take on Watergrasshill who will be looking for a better future.
2018 PIHC DRAW:
A. Mallow v Cloyne
B. Fermoy v Carrigaline
C. Kilworth v Charleville
D. Fr O’Neill’s v Aghada
E. Watergrasshill v Ballinhassig
F. Youghal v Castlelyons
G. Valley Rovers v Blarney
H. Courcey Rovers v Inniscarra
Losers H v losers B
Losers C v losers D
Losers E v losers G
Losers A v losers F