THE Rebel Óg minor championship gets underway tonight with football and will be followed in a week’s time with the first round of the hurling.
As is well-known at this stage the club championships are now at U17 age level for minor, falling in line with the inter-county championships in recent years.
This change now means that the primary age groups at underage level are U13, U15 and U17, a move away from the traditional ones of U14, U16 and U18.
Clubs have been well aware of the change for some time so it didn’t come as any great surprise to them, but the concern was about players that are U18 but too old for U17. Rebel Óg will be running a league for them, which has started, but now breaking for the minor championship rounds and it will recommence again after them in July.
There are some great games in store tonight as the round-robin stage gets underway and top billing sees the U16 champions from last year facing each other.
St Finbarr’s won the Premier 1 title and Bantry Blues the Premier 2 decider, and they made the decision to come up a grade this year.
The Barrs will be making the trip to Bantry for this one and have no doubt in normal circumstances the home side would have had a huge crowd out to support them.
However, on the plus side, some supporters will be allowed in to add to the atmosphere.
The Barrs will be amongst the favourites to lift the title and on last year’s efforts, it’s going to take a good side to stop them.
In the likes of Ben O’Connor, Fionn Crowley, William Buckley, Shay Fenton, and Conor Hegarty they have players capable of winning any game and they will be hoping to continue their form from last season into this year’s campaign.
A number of them were also involved with their minor (U18) hurlers last year who won the hurling championship and have no doubt they will be hoping to add another few medals to their trophy cabinets this year.
Bantry will be looking to the likes of Daire Kingston, Paddy Cronin, Oran Wiseman and Conor Cronin to see them through, but even with home advantage, they will be up against it here.
Another clash that would attract a crowd always is a tie between Ballincollig and Douglas and again this has the potential to be a thriller. Ballincollig have home advantage and could make this tell.
The Village have been improving at underage level over the last few years and have been getting to semi-finals and finals of a lot of competitions over that time.
They have enjoyed some success along the way and no doubt this will only increase in the coming years with the work they are putting in.
In the other Premier 1 games St Michael’s, who lost out in the U16 final last year, will be aiming to go one better this time and start off with a difficult trip to Mallow. But the visitors will be expected to come away with the points.
Nemo Rangers will be aiming to make home advantage count over Na Piarsaigh and should do so, whilst Inniscarra will be among the favourites for the Premier 2 title.
Rebel Óg U17 Premier 1 football championship: Ballincollig v Douglas; Nemo Rangers v Na Piarsaigh; Bantry Blues v St Finbarr’s; Mallow v St Michael’s, first named teams at home and all games are at 7pm.
Rebel Óg U17 Premier 2 football championship: Inniscarra v Bishopstown; Valley Rovers v Kilshannig, all at 7pm. Carrigaline v Kinsale, 8pm, and all first named teams at home.