THE draws for the 2021 Bon Secours Premier Intermediate and Intermediate A football championship have thrown up some intriguing matchups.
Group 1 of the PIFC sees a St Nick’s club relegated from the top tier facing into a difficult opening phase against the losers of Kanturk and Knocknagree’s yet to be played 2020 Premier Intermediate county final. On their day, Nick’s are more than capable of matching their group opponents and will no doubt relish the opportunity.
Macroom and Naomh Abán are the other teams making up Group 1 and both will be eager for an improved showing this coming season. The latter failed to win a group game while Macroom only missed out on a place in the PIFC quarter-finals on scoring difference last year.
2020 county semi-finalists Cill na Marta are tipped for another productive year but must first negotiate a group that contains Nemo Rangers, St Vincent’s and the winners of Mitchelstown and Rockchapel’s IAFC county decider. Ciarán Ó Duinnín, Daniel Ó Duinnín and Mícheál Ó Deasúna regularly featured on the scoreboard for Cill na Marta last term and will be expected to fire their club into contention once again.
Group 3 comprises of Newmarket, Aghada, Castletownbere and Na Piarsaigh. Amazingly, this is an exact replica of last year’s Group 1. All four clubs know one another well so an exciting round-robin series of matches is anticipated.
Number one seeds Newmarket’s Conor O’Keefe top-scored in last year’s championship with a personal tally of 1-20. Knocknagree edged the Duhallow club by a point in the penultimate round of the championship so Newmarket will be anxious to kick on. Aghada are another club to watch out for having reached last year’s quarter-final stage only to also lose out to Knocknagree.
Four groups of four clubs will make up the opening rounds of the 16-team 2021 Intermediate A Football Championship. The top two will progress to the county quarter-finals.
Group 1 will contain the losers of Mitchelstown and Rockchapel’s yet to be played county decider as well as Aghabullogue, Kildorrery and Glanmire. Aghabullogue went all the way to the 2020 semi-final stage while Glanmire staved off relegation thanks to a 0-14 to 1-5 play-off defeat of Mayfield.
In Group 2, Kilshanning, Glanworth, Adrigole and Glenville will battle it out for two places in the knockout stages. Shane O’Riordan was on fire for Glanworth in last year’s championship and contributed 0-26 en-route to his side’s semi-final berth where Rockchapel proved too strong.
Beara club Adrigole won only once last term, a 2-11 to 2-8 defeat or relegated Mayfield, and will need improved performances to make any headway this time around. As for Glenville, their solitary championship victory came courtesy of a shock 2-11 to 1-13 win over Millstreet last year.
Speaking of Millstreet, they will be expected to top Group 3 which also contains Kinsale, St Finbarr’s and whoever emerges as the 2020 JAFC county final winners. The latter competition is still only at the quarter-final stage. Kinsale reached the 2020 IAFC quarter-finals after finishing second in their group before losing to Mitchelstown.
The final group is made up of Gabriel Rangers, Ballinora, Dromtarriffe and Ballydesmond. Gabriel Rangers were relegated from the PIFC following a 0-13 to 0-7 loss to Na Piarsaigh. The West Cork club will be eager to bounce back at the first time of asking but may find the going tough against their battle-hardened opponents.
Ballinora reached the last eight of last year’s IAFC on the back of some impressive displays and they, along with Dromtariffe, will likely contest the second qualification berth behind Gabriel Rangers. Ballydesmond failed to win a single group championship game last year and may struggle once again.
The Intermediate A grade was originally be supposed to be reduced from 16 to 12 clubs at the end of 2021 with five teams relegated to junior A. Since then, the county board has changed it to a simple one team up from Junior A and one team down from the IAFC.
St Nick’s, Losers Kanturk/Knocknagree, Macroom, Naomh Abán.
Cill na Marta, Nemo Rangers, St Vincent’s, Winners of Mitchelstown/Rockchapel.
Newmarket, Aghada, Castletownbere, Na Piarsaigh.
Losers Mitchelstown/Rockchapel, Aghabullogue, Kildorrery, Glanmire.
Kilshanning, Glanworth, Adrigole, Glenville.
Millstreet, Kinsale, St Finbarr’s, JAFC Winners.
Gabriel Rangers, Ballinora, Dromtarriffe, Ballydesmond.