THERE will be plenty of interest in this year’s Cork LGFA U21 championships following the draws for all four grades last week.
2018 was the last time the U21 championships were held so the return of this important age-grade is good news for everyone involved in the Cork LGFA community.
All four U21 championships are due to begin on March 20th and will run for four consecutive weeks before crowning U21 champions at the A, B, C and D grades.
This year’s U21 A championship sees Mourneabbey taking on Aghada and Éire Óg facing Glanmire.
There is very little to go on in terms of making any bold predictions.
All four clubs have featured prominently at U16 and minor before and during Covid-affected campaigns in recent times.
Mourneabbey denied Glanmire a fourth consecutive U16 A title following a 3-10 to 2-9 county final victory last October.
What we do know is that the winners of each tie will contest this year’s U21 A final and, such is the quality of players within each club’s ranks, any combination of that quartet guarantees an absorbing decider.
2022’s U21 B championship contains no less than six clubs that compete in the West Cork LGFA division.
Of those, Clonakilty and Kinsale have been handed byes into the quarter-finals. Bride Rovers is the other club straight into the last-eight, leaving eight teams to fight it out in the opening round.
Valley Rovers face a tough assignment against an up and coming Naomh Abán team and Dohenys will need to be at their best when taking on Inch Rovers.
There’s little doubt what the standout tie of the first round is.
A West Cork derby between O’Donovan Rossa and Bandon will be worth attending as both clubs possess terrific underage setups that have produced inter-county talent at U16 and minor over the past number of years.
To underline the point, O’Donovan Rossa’s 16 year-old Lia Hogan was recently crowned Munster LGFA Young Player of the Year.
Whoever emerges from that Skibbereen and Bandon clash with take on the winners of St. Val’s and Douglas in the quarter-finals.
Bride Rovers await the winners of Dohenys and Inch, Naomh Aban or Valley’s will face Kinsale and Clonakilty will take on either Fermoy or Ballinora.
Fifteen clubs will take part in the 2022 Cork LGFA U21 C championship which kicks off with seven first round ties.
Bantry Blues or Araglen Desmonds Bui will play Castlehaven (bye) in the quarter-finals while the winners of Bishopstown and Banteer’s opening round clash are set to face either Macroom or Kilshannig.
The other side of the U21 C quarter-final draw sees either Ballinhassig or Rockban taking on the winners of Carrigaline and Dromtariffe.
Nemo Rangers or Rosscarbery are down to play either Mallow or Abhainn Dalla in the last eight of what should be a cracking competition.
Encouragingly, Cork LGFA is also running a U21 D championship this year, underlining the growing numbers of teams coming up through the county’s various underage ranks.
There is one preliminary round tie involving Ballincollig and St. Mary’s.
Whoever wins that encounter will take on Naomh Fionn Barra in the quarter-finals.
The other three last-eight ties involve Ibane Ladies facing Passage West, Killavullen taking on Midleton and Funcheon Gales going head to head with Watergrasshill.
On the inter-county scene, Cork’s U14 squads got their Munster LGFA campaign off to a positive start with victories over Tipperary in Cloughduv a fortnight ago. The Rebels registered a 2-18 to 1-3 Munster LGFA A championship.
On the same afternoon, a second Cork U14 team overcame Tipp 4-3 to 2-2 in the Johnny Hayes Memorial tournament. Cork will be back out in Munster U14 action on March 26th away to Kerry.
Dominic Gallagher’s Cork U16’s are busily preparing for their provincial debut as are Joe Carroll’s Cork minors who are set for Munster action in early April.
The county’s minors take on Tipperary on April 17th in Tipperary before hosting Kerry a week later.
If involved, Cork will contest a Munster LGFA minor final on the weekend of May 1st and 2nd.
Thankfully, should they be successful at provincial level, Cork will have an opportunity to contest All-Ireland U14, U16 and minor LGFA championships later in the year.