A place in the finals of the new Cork Credit Union Football League and a few quid to go with it awaits the winners of the weekend’s semi-finals.
It replaced the traditional leagues because of Covid restrictions and was devised on seven divisions split into two groups of four on a round-robin basis.
The action got underway last night with the meeting of Dohenys and Bandon in division 4 and there was an extra dimension to the tie because the west Cork rivals are also due to meet in the Bon Secours county senior A championship later in the season.
It will be the concluding game in a group containing O’Donovan Rossa and Ballingeary and is sure to be highly competitive.
The division 3 derby between Carrigaline and Douglas in Carrigaline on Sunday at 12.45 has a similar theme as they are due to kick-start their premier senior championship campaigns in the opening round fixture.
Both squeezed through to the play-offs on scoring difference after six of the eight teams in the two sections all finished with 11 points.
Carrigaline edged Kanturk and Clyda Rovers in the final standings while Douglas were runners-up to Newcestown with Ilen Rovers nudged out.
Cork commitments will impact on Douglas, who will have a youthful look to their side, including goalkeeper Cian O’Leary and Alan O’Hare in attack.
Newcestown are involved in the only game tomorrow, when Kanturk make the journey for the other division 3 semi-final.
The west Cork club have a nice blend of experience and youth while Kanturk can call on the likes of Aidan Walsh and Lorcan McLoughlin though county duties will also affect them.
On Sunday, St Finbarr’s, who defeated Nemo Rangers, Kiskeam and Eire Og in their group, host Cill na Martra in division 1 at Togher at 3pm.
Steven Sherlock and Cillian Myers-Murray impressed in attack for the ’Barr’s, who will also have Sam Ryan, Jamie Burns and Conor Dennehy.
Cill na Martra, who finished runners-up to Clonakilty, won’t have the services of Cork pair Dan O Duinnin and Tadhg Corkery and will be weakened as a result.
The other semi-final between Clon and recently crowned senior A county champions, Eire Og, is an intriguing encounter even if both will be missing their Cork contingent.
A ’Barr’s-Clon decider looks on the cards though the Ovens club have the scent of success in their nostrils now.
The division 2 semi-finals have an alluring appeal about them as well, featuring Ballincollig against Castlehaven and O’Donovan Rossa hosting Newmarket.
Ballincollig, who have Pa Kelly and Cian Dorgan pulling the strings up front, were unbeaten in qualifying, defeating Ballingeary and Fermoy and drawing with Newmarket.
The Haven’s progress has been remarkable considering all the players that are not available due to Cork football and hurling and the fact that they lost their opening game and drew their second match.
Shane Nolan’s goals, though, have proved invaluable his late pair against Mallow clinched their semi-final berth.
The meeting of Skibbereen and Newmarket brings together two clubs from football strongholds and should be a full-blooded affair.
There’s a northside derby in the city between Na Piarsaigh and Mayfield in division 6 with the winners taking on either Ballinora or Kilshannig.
Aghada and Knocknagree travel to Ballyvourney and Bantry in divisions 4 and 5 respectively while Kinsale head to Mitchelstown also in division 5.
Division 7, which is a straight final involving Glanmire and yet-to-be-decided opponents, has a local derby to beat all with Castletownbere visiting Adrigole, who will qualify if successful.
FIXTURES: Cork Credit Union Football League semi-finals.
TOMORROW: Division 3: Newcestown v Kanturk, Newcestown, 5.30.
SUNDAY: Division 6: Ballinora v Kilshannig, Ballinora, 12 noon.
Division 5: Mitchelstown v Kinsale, Mitchelstown, 12 noon.
Division 3: Carrigaline v Douglas, Carrigaline, 12.45.
Division 2: Ballincollig v Castlehaven, Ballincollig, 1pm.
Division 5: Bantry Blues v Knocknagree, Wolfe Tone Park, 1.30.
Division 1: Clonakilty v Eire Og, Clonakilty; St Finbarr’s v Cill na Martra, Togher, both 3pm.
Division 2: O’Donovan Rossa v Newmarket, Skibbereen, 3pm.
Division 4: Naomh Aban v Aghada, Ballyvourney, 3pm.
Division 6: Na Piarsaigh v Mayfield, Na Piarsaigh, 3pm.
Division 7 (unfinished): Adrigole v Castletownbere, Adrigole, 3pm.