Cork GAA club draws: Premier Senior and Senior A football groups revealed

Nemo, Castlehaven and St Finbarr's remain the teams to beat in 2021
Cork GAA club draws: Premier Senior and Senior A football groups revealed

Newcestown's Fionn Keane gets off his pass from Carbery Rangers' Brian Hodnett during the Bon Secours Cork PSFC at Ballinascarty. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

IF familiarity breeds contempt there's going to a serious bite to the 2021 Bons Secours Premier Senior Football group stages.

In a quirk of the draw, three of the teams in each of the three groups already met in the same phase last summer. Nemo, Valley Rovers and Douglas will this season be joined by Carrigaline in Group 1; Group 2 features West Cork rivals Castlehaven, Newcestown and Carbery Rangers again, along with the winners of the delayed 2020 Senior A final between Éire Óg and Mallow; Group 3 has St Finbarr's, Ballincollig, Clonakilty and Ilen Rovers.

It's a pity that there isn't a fresher look to the round-robin section, as games between Haven-Ross, Barrs-Collig and Nemo-Douglas have been regular occurrences for some time. The bottom line is the winners and runners-up from each group will progress to the knockout phase, where they will be joined by a team from the divisional-colleges section, which has yet to be set.

Teams will be seeded one to six, with the top-ranked side getting a bye to the semi-finals. The bottom two rated on the basis of results and scoring difference head to a relegation play-off.

In the Bons Secours Senior A group stages, there is no shortage of interesting match-ups, including O'Donovan Rossa against Bandon, relegated Bishopstown taking on St Michael's and Fermoy meeting Clyda Rovers.

Group 1 involves Skibb, Bandon Beál Átha'n Ghaorthaidh and Dohenys, an intriguing mix; Group 2 pits the Town against Michael's, Kiskeam and the victors of the PIFC final, Knocknagree or Kanturk; Group 3 includes Fermoy, Clyda Rovers, Bantry and the Mallow-Éire Óg losers.

Here the two top emerge from each group, with the first two seeds moving forward to the semis, the others to the quarter-finals. Again a relegation play-off will pair two of fourth-placed clubs from the groups.

There's the small matter of the 2020 championships to be concluded too of course. Nemo Rangers versus Castlehaven is pure box office in the Premier Senior decider.

The clubs clashed in the 2013 when Brian Hurley was inspired as the Haven retained their crown while two years later Nemo a Barry O'Driscoll goal proved key in a replay. The city powerhouse have since added titles in 2017 and '19, while Castlehaven have been perennial contenders without getting up the steps to lift the Andy Scannell Cup.

In the Senior A grade, Mallow and Éire Óg are paired, a repeat of the group clash where Mallow were on top. Cian O'Riordan and James Loughrey will lead their charge, while the Ovens outfit have made massive strides in recent years after landing the PIFC in 2019 and they are also in the IAHC decider.

 At the Cork County Board GAA Club draws were Marc Sheahan, chairman, and Conor Counihan, football project coordinator in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
At the Cork County Board GAA Club draws were Marc Sheahan, chairman, and Conor Counihan, football project coordinator in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Adult GAA players have been given the all-clear to train again from May 10, following on from the resumption of underage training this week. They'll be allowed to play games again from June 7, behind closed doors.

That will allow the Cork County Board to proceed with the leagues, which will be in a truncated format giving clubs three games in each code and not with teams they'll face in the championship. It is being billed a league-cup, rather than a traditional league. It's not ideal but will at least provide players the chance to prep for the main action in a meaningful way.

Cork GAA bosses will also look to move forward with the delayed junior championships from last season, and any matches at higher tiers that don't involve those on inter-county duty for Ronan McCarthy's footballers or Kieran Kingston's hurlers.

BONS SECOURS SENIOR A FOOTBALL 

Group 1: O'Donovan Rossa, Bandon, Beál Átha'n Ghaorthaidh, Dohenys.

Group 2: Bishopstown, St Michael's, Kiskeam, Winner of Knocknagree v Kanturk.

Group 3: Fermoy, Loser of Mallow v Éire Óg, Clyda Rovers, Bantry Blues.

BONS SECOURS PREMIER SENIOR FOOTBALL 

Group 1: Nemo Rangers, Valley Rovers, Douglas, Carrigaline.

Group 2: Castlehaven, Newcestown, Carbery Rangers, Winners of Mallow v Éire Óg.

Group 3: St Finbarr's, Ballincollig, Clonakilty, Ilen Rovers.

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