Linda Mellerick previews the opening round of Cork club camogie fixtures

Sars beat Milford earlier this week with the rest of the teams in action over the coming days
Linda Mellerick previews the opening round of Cork club camogie fixtures

Sarsfields' Clare Mullins gets away from Milford's Orla O'Mahony, during their Senior Camogie Championship clash at Mallow on Wednesday. Picture: David Keane.

THERE are nine senior camogie championship first-round games fixed for this weekend as Cork’s club activity gets underway.

It was great last year to have these games played during the summer along with the extended club season; the long summer evenings led to all games being played in Castle Road.

Due to the opposite split season and Cork’s involvement in the All-Ireland final last Sunday, dark evenings lead us to a home and away process which makes it more difficult for neutral supporters to see as many games as they would like.

The intermediate and junior championships also throw-in this weekend.

Sarsfield’s and Milford played out a preliminary first-round last Wednesday evening with Sars emerging victorious.

It’s been a tough few days for Ashling Thompson, who lost her grandmother last week, and she joined the action on 45 minutes. It wasn’t enough, but Milford will have another chance in the losers round.

Sars are back out tomorrow against Newcestown. The spirited display of Newcestown was a joy last season and they’ll bring it again, but Sars will be strong favourites here.

 Sarsfields' Olivia McAllen has her jersey pulled as she tries to get away from Milford's Olive Linehan. Picture: David Keane.
Sarsfields' Olivia McAllen has her jersey pulled as she tries to get away from Milford's Olive Linehan. Picture: David Keane.

Cork has 19 senior clubs and divisions in this year’s championship, which is huge compared with other counties, so it’s all systems go with games coming in abundance over the coming weeks.

Who will capture the Punch Cup for 2021?

Douglas dethroned holders Sarsfields, but it was Courcey Rovers that won their first title in 2020. They’ll find it harder this year as it’s always difficult to retain a crown.

Amy O’Connor is lining out with Seandún this season and that’s great news for the city divisional side.

Their preparation hasn’t been good though, so how the players gel will determine if they get over the line against St Catherine’s who always give a good account of themselves, losing out to Courcey’s last season in the quarter-final by six points.

On paper, Seandún are very strong, and it’ll be a tough one for Catherine’s.

Glen Rovers beat Seandún last year after extra-time in round four and are the current senior league champions.

They take on Eire Óg who would be disappointed to have played just two games last year, receiving a bye into the quarter-finals after beating Milford by a point in the opening round.

That didn’t do them any favours and they lost to Douglas, who were well beaten by Courcey Rovers in the semi-final.

Glen should emerge here. Cloughduv lost their two rounds in last year’s championship and take on the might of Killeagh who were disappointing in 2020 and failed to deliver on the promise they have.

Killeagh had their inter-county players for the duration of group training last season and that failed to get them to a semi-final having lost to St Finbarr’s, 3-7 to 0-7.

The demands of club football in the same calendar space vying for the same players has a bigger impact on some clubs. Cloughduv will, as always, put up a great battle, but you would expect Killeagh to prevail.

St Finbarr’s and Inniscarra could be a tight affair although five Cork minors and the inclusion of Down’s Sorcha McCartan makes St Finbarr’s favourites and a force to be reckoned with in 2021. Are they going to be the ones to claim the title this year?

They lost to Inniscarra by a goal in the semi-final last season, but that result could be reversed here.

Imokilly will hope for a stronger return from their selection than last year and they take on Ballygarvan who enjoyed three strong games before losing in round 4. They’ll be expected to overcome the East Cork side.

Debutants Enniskeane could pull off their first senior championship win over Douglas, depending on the Mackey factor.

Ballincollig have a significant number of injuries and facing the champions is not the start they would have liked, while Muskerry and Carbery return to senior championship action after not fielding in 2020.

SE SYSTEMS CORK SENIOR CAMOGIE CHAMPIONSHIP

Castle Road tomorrow: Cloughduv v Killeagh, 1pm; Seandún v St Catherine’s 3.15pm; Imokilly v Ballygarvan, 5.30pm.

Castle Road Sunday: Douglas v Enniskeane, 12pm; Inniscarra v St Finbarr’s, 2.45pm; Glen Rovers v Eire Óg, 5.30pm.

Éire Óg tomorrow: Sarsfield’s v Newcestown, 2pm.

Coachford tomorrow: Ballincollig v Courcey Rovers, 3pm.

Riverstick tomorrow: Muskerry v Carbery 5pm.

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