DOUGLAS are installed as the 5/2 favourites for the Bon Secours PSFC following their shock win over defending champions Nemo Rangers at the weekend.
They are followed in the betting by St Finbarr’s at 11/4 with last season’s beaten finalists, Castlehaven, at 3/1 and Duhallow at 7/2.
Éire Óg, who are the newcomers after their senior A triumph, and Valley Rovers are quoted 14/1 with Clonakilty at 16s.
Douglas edged the other group winners, the Barrs and the Haven, on scoring difference to claim the only semi-final place on offer.
It results in quarter-finals between the Barrs and Éire Óg at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Friday night week and a double-header involving the Haven and Newcestown and Clon and Duhallow at the same venue on Sunday week.
The semi-finals will produce a Douglas-Haven tie and a Barrs-Duhallow clash if the form book stands up, but it could be complicated otherwise because you can’t have repeat pairings in the last four.
For example, should Valleys upset the Haven they can’t play Douglas as they’ve already met in the group phase and it’s the same story for a potential Barrs-Clon semi-final.
In that case, it would mean Douglas meeting Clon and the Barrs facing Valleys, but that’s for another day, if at all.
Three of the sides who reached the quarter-finals last season in the first installment of the new format missed out on this occasion.
Nemo were obviously the highest-profile casualties and they were joined by Newcestown, who got squeezed out by Éire Óg, and Ballincollig, who also lost two of their three group games.
In their places came Douglas, Éire Óg and Clon which again reflects the unforgiving nature of the championship’s structure.
In 2020, the Haven grabbed the semi-final spot with a late scoring burst to deny city rivals Nemo and the Barrs, but they were caught on the line this season.
There was literally only a kick of the ball between the group winners in terms of scoring difference with Douglas finishing on +12, the Barrs +11 the Haven on +9.
Is there a benefit in avoiding a quarter-final or are teams better off playing a game en route to the semi-final and a possible final?
It’s one of those great imponderables to which there is no concrete answer though it didn’t affect the Haven in the 2020 campaign.
Mind you, they did need that dramatic sudden-death penalty shoot-out to edge the Barrs in a late Sunday night thriller.
Nemo’s exit, courtesy of Daniel Harte’s rocket, has left the door wide open for clubs with designs on replacing them as holders of the Andy Scannell Cup.
All the remaining seven teams will harbour genuine belief that 2021 could be their year, especially those who have experience of winning and losing county finals.
The smart money will be on a Haven-Barrs showdown, but there’s much to be undertaken along the road, especially now with pitches getting softer, games slowing as a consequence and the weather turning to winter.
What it will produce, though, is a fascinating run-in to the eventual destination of the title and who knows who’ll be lifting the cup at the end of next month.
R1: Nemo Rangers 0-11 Valley Rovers 1-9; Douglas 1-15 Carrigaline 0-9.
R2: Nemo Rangers 6-17 Carrigaline 1-9; Douglas 0-13 Valley Rovers 1-9.
R3: Douglas 1-10 Nemo Rangers 0-11; Carrigaline 0-8 Valley Rovers 5-12.
1. Douglas 6 pts (+12), 2. Valley Rovers 4 pts (+19), 3. Nemo Rangers 2 pts, 4. Carrigaline 0 (-52).
R1: Carbery Rangers 1-9 Éire Óg 1-15; Castlehaven 2-12 Newcestown 1-10.
R2: Éire Óg 2-16 v Castlehaven 2-19; Carbery Rangers 0-8 Newcestown 0-9.
R3: Castlehaven 1-9 Carbery Rangers 0-11; Éire Óg 1-11 Newcestown 0-11.
1. Castlehaven 6 pts (+9), 2. Éire Óg 4 pts (+6), 3. Newcestown 2 pts, 4. Carbery Rangers 0 (-8).
R1: St Finbarr’s 2-15 Ballincollig 1-17; Clonakilty 3-10 Ilen Rovers 0-11.
R2: St Finbarr’s 0-17 Ilen Rovers 1-11; Clonakilty 1-10 Ballincollig 0-12.
R3: St Finbarr’s 1-12 Clonakilty 1-5; Ballincollig 2-17 Ilen Rovers 0-10.
1. St Finbarr’s 6 pts (+11), 2. Clonakilty 4 pts (+2), 3. Ballincollig 2 pts, 4. Ilen Rovers 0 (-21).