ON the law of averages it was bound to happen.
The four teams who comprise Group C in the county premier intermediate football championship are the same as last season.
In an uncanny roll of the dice, Newmarket, Aghada, Castletownbere and Na Piarsaigh, will again play each other, though not in the same sequence as 2020.
Newmarket, who lost the services of Cork player Aidan Browne due to a cruciate knee ligament in training recently, retain their status as top seeds.
Piarsaighs, who lost all three games, but prevailed in the relegation play-off against Gabriel Rangers, slip from number two to fourth seeds.
Aghada move up from third seeds to number two with Castletownbere switching from fourth seeds to third.
Newmarket won all three games to top the section on maximum points with a strong scoring difference of +21 as well.
Aghada also progressed to the knock-out stages following victories over Castletownbere and Na Piarsaigh with a five-point loss to the Duhallow club sandwiched in between.
The Beara club’s 4-9 to 2-11 triumph over the city club helped them avoid getting dragged into any relegation matters.
However, neither Newmarket nor Aghada could make any progress in the cut and thrust of the knock-out stage.
Newmarket joined Cill na Martra as the two clubs advancing straight to the semi-finals, but Knocknagree squeezed out their neighbours, winning a tense affair by 0-15 to 0-14.
Aghada lost out to another Duhallow outfit, Kanturk, in their quarter-final, going down by 0-17 to 0-8, to set-up a showdown with Cill na Martra in the other semi-final.
Over the years this grade has had a habit of throwing the odd curve ball in terms of freak results and it happened again in 2020.
The meeting of Cill na Martra and Knocknagree in the concluding game was expected to produce an exciting tie featuring first and second in the section with only a point separating them.
But, nobody could have predicted the Gaeltacht club going to town on their opponents and scoring seven goals in the process to produce an extraordinary 7-11 to 0-13 score line.
It was an afternoon, when the talented Dan O Duinnin showcased his skills, not just contributing a couple of goals, but also linking with colleagues in the creation of other scores, as well.
Yet, the unpredictable nature of the grade became apparent once again because it wasn’t Cill na Martra who made it to the final, but Knocknagree.
Despite such a heavy defeat, they still managed to finish second in the group with three points, the lowest in the three groups, after St Vincent’s stung Naomh Aban with a late rally in 2-13 to 2-12 triumph.
A Naomh Aban victory would have secured a quarter-final place on scoring difference, but the John Fintan Daly coached side picked themselves off the floor, dusted themselves down and recovered to win their next two games by a minimum margin.
Knocknagree just squeezed past Nemo Rangers’ second string in the quarter-finals and Newmarket to create a showdown with Kanturk, who denied Cill na Martra by a point, as well.
Cill na Martra and St Vincent’s are grouped together again along with Nemo’s second string and the intermediate winners, either Mitchelstown or Rockchapel.
That will mean 10 definite repeat games from last season and that could extend to 11 should Kanturk lose the county final because they would be in the same section as Macroom again.
There are two newcomers to the grade, St Nick’s, who were relegated from senior A and the winner of the Mitchelstown/Rockchapel final.
The pairings are: Group A: R1: St Nick’s v Kanturk or Knocknagree; Macroom v Naomh Aban.
R2: St Nick’s v Naomh Aban; Kanturk or Knocknagree v Macroom.
R3: St Nick’s v Macroom; Kanturk or Knocknagree v Naomh Aban.
Group B: R1: Cill na Martra v Nemo Rangers; St Vincent’s v Mitchelstown or Rockchapel.
R2: Cill na Martra v Mitchelstown or Rockchapel; Nemo Rangers v St Vincent’s.
R3: Cill na Martra v St Vincent’s; Nemo Rangers v Mitchelstown or Rockchapel.
Group C: R1: Newmarket v Aghada; Castletownbere v Na Piarsaigh.
R2: Newmarket v Na Piarsaigh; Aghada v Castletownbere.
R3: Newmarket v Castletownbere; Aghada v Na Piarsaigh.