ONE of the many knock-on effects of the 2020 season dragging into this year concerns the county junior football championship.
First played for way back in 1895 by the second teams of clubs in the senior championship, the competition has stood the test of time well, even with the odd slice of chopping and changing.
For example, the intermediate grade was introduced in 1909 and the county champions won promotion to that level of football before its popularity led to a restructuring to the current divisional basis some 17 years later.
There was another tweak in 1939, when the intermediate grade was abandoned before returning again in ’64.
For a brief spell recently the county section was competed by both the winners and runners-up in the eight divisions, but has since returned to its traditional ‘winners only’ format.
Teams play for the Donal O’Sullivan Cup, in honour of the former Cork and Munster chairman, and the current holders are Kilshannig, who were the 2019 champions. Who will replace them and moved up a grade in the process?
That’s a question not only asked by the 11 remaining teams, but also by fixture planners at county and divisional levels because it will have implications.
The various divisional secretaries, for example, can’t be sure for certain who will make up the full list of clubs entering the junior leagues and championships and it’s the same at county level, when it comes to the intermediate A championship.
Whoever eventually gets their hands on the trophy should replace Mayfield, who lost the relegation final to Glanmire last season, and are expected to return to junior in the city.
Passage are the reigning Seandun champions after ending a 26-year wait by overcoming Delanys by 1-13 to 0-7 in the decider, when Cathal McCarthy scored 1-2 and goalkeeper Anthony Kidney ventured out from goal to land three points from placed balls.
It would be a very straight forward process should Passage go all the way to winning the county-they meet Beara champions Urhan in the quarter-finals-because they would simply swap places with Mayfield.
Six of the divisions managed to complete their championships before the pandemic shut everything down.
Midleton captured the Imokilly title with four goals to spare from Carrigtwohill, Eoin Moloney, Sean O’Meara, Ian Kenefick and an own goal assisting the Magpies, who meet Muskerry champions Iveleary in the first round in the county.
They completed four-in-a-row in the mid-Cork division by squeezing past Kilmurry by 1-11 to 0-13 in the final and becoming the first club to achieve such notoriety since the 1940s, when it was last achieved.
Goalkeeper Joe Creedon along with goal-scorer Sean O’Leary, Chris Og Jones and Cathal Vaughan reflect Iveleary’s strong challenge for honours, having lost by just two points to Kilshanning in the semi-final two years ago.
They are on the same side of the draw as the Avondhu and Carbery winners though the north Cork decider has yet to be resolved with Buttevant and Charleville awaiting confirmation of a fixture.
Michael O’Neill, one of the stars of Cork’s 2019 All-Ireland minor triumph, was again a leading light for Buttevant in their semi-final victory over Ballyclough.
An early Mark Kavanagh goal was the key score in Charleville’s one-point win against Kilworth.
Whoever emerges will have their hands full with Kilmacabea, who scorched to their third south-west title in four years with a resounding victory over Carbery Rangers’ second string in the final.
Cork panellist Damien Gore was one of seven scorers, contributing 0-8, half of his total coming from frees.
The Passage-Urhan tie is in the bottom half of the draw along with the Carrigdhoun champions and Boherbue, who completed four-in-a-row in Duhallow and will have a big say in the title’s destination.
There are three teams still contending in the south-east.
Valley Rovers are through to the final, where they await either Ballymartle or Courcey Rovers.
The quarter-final draw is: (A) Midleton v Iveleary; (B) Buttevant or Charleville v Kilmacabea; (C) Passage v Urhan; (D) Valley Rovers, Ballymartle or Courcey Rovers v Boherbue.
Semi-finals: A v B, C v D.