BOTH Valley Rovers and Newcestown will have more than a passing interest in the final of the 2020 Bon Secours county premier senior football championship final between Nemo Rangers and Castlehaven.
When it’s eventually played this summer, more than likely in mid-to-late August, the pair are unlikely to have too much time to either celebrate or drown their sorrows to any great degree.
September starts the 2021 championship and the first-round pairings in the three groups of four teams has Valleys taking on Nemo and Newcestown facing the Haven…again.
The question in either Valleys or Newcestown camps is whether they’d prefer taking on the new champions or the vanquished in the opening game of three.
Given that it’s over five months away at this juncture the answer doesn’t require to be immediately forthcoming, but it will be interesting when it does come around.
While there was much shoulder shrugging after the draw produced very similar groupings to last season, there are still fascinating match-ups and the scheduling is probably more intriguing, too.
Half of the 18 games in this phase of the championship will be repeat ties from last year, when 16 of those matches went to form.
In other words, the higher ranked teams prevailed every time with the honourable exception of two, which, unsurprisingly, came in the west Cork Group of Death containing Carbery Rangers, Castlehaven, Newcestown and Ilen Rovers.
The sequence is important because subsequent results offered a change in rankings after the Haven and Newcestown both defeated Carbery Rangers, who slipped from first to third seeds.
Mind you, there was no great surprise in the Haven’s opening 0-14 to 0-9 triumph, when Michael Hurley was on song with 0-6 and brother Brian hit 0-4.
Newcestown’s 2-12 to 2-9 victory came as a real blow to the Rosscarbery club, who lost out on a quarter-final place after goals from Tadhg Twomey and Jack Meade helped the winners advance.
On the face of it, you’d imagine the same three teams will again dominate the groups, Nemo, the Haven and St Finbarr’s, who reached the semi-final last season, losing in a dramatic sudden-death penalty shoot-out to the Haven on a late Sunday night in September.
There’s a strong incentive to be the best of the trio as a lone semi-final place awaits with the other pair heading to the quarter-finals, where there are three games.
There was great drama and subterfuge in 2020 as Nemo, the Haven and the ’Barr’s tried to outscore one another and claim the last-four spot on scoring difference.
The three had won both their games and were fancied to stretch their winning sequences against Douglas, Ilen and Clonakilty in that order.
Nemo held the initiative with a +22 scoring difference compared to the ’Barr’s +19 with the Haven seemingly well adrift on +11.
But, as the concluding round of fixtures played out, it became obvious that the west Cork club were coming with a late run to overtake their city rivals.
At one stage the Haven went all North Korea like, blocking out the rest of the world by pulling the plug on their twitter machines and depriving social media junkies of their instant fix, as they went on a scoring spree against Ilen.
While Nemo and the ’Barr’s were winning their games, the margins made them vulnerable and that’s how it played out.
The Trabeg club won by five points for +27, Togher’s finest had four points to spare for +23, but the Haven’s 21-point success propelled them to +32, avoiding the quarter-finals in the process.
Two final round games are repeats, but the Haven-Ross promises much.
PSFC pairings: Group A: R1: Nemo Rangers v Valley Rovers; Douglas v Carrigaline.
R2: Nemo Rangers v Carrigaline; Valley Rovers v Douglas.
R3: Nemo Rangers v Douglas; Valley Rovers v Carrigaline.
Group B: R1: Castlehaven v Newcestown; Carbery Rangers v Mallow or Eire Og.
R2: Castlehaven v Mallow or Eire Og; Newcestown v Carbery Rangers.
R3: Castlehaven v Carbery Rangers; Newcestown v Mallow or Eire Og.
Group C: R1: St Finbarr’s v Ballincollig; Clonakilty v Ilen Rovers.
R2: St Finbarr’s v Ilen Rovers; Ballincollig v Clonakilty.
R3: St Finbarr’s v Clonakilty; Ballincollig v Ilen Rovers.