Mark Keane set to feature for Avondhu as divisions get set for action

Avondhu take on Carbery tonight with Carrigdhoun going up against Muskerry
Mark Keane set to feature for Avondhu as divisions get set for action

Mark Keane of Ballygiblin and Cork will hurl for his division this week. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

THE Co-op SuperStores Cork Premier SHC gets underway this evening, with two games in the divisions and colleges section.

Coachford is the venue at 7.30pm as Avondhu take on Carbery, with Carrigdhoun meeting Muskerry in Bandon at the same time.

The four sides, along with Duhallow, comprise the preliminary section of the competition, from which one team will emerge to contest the semi-finals along with Imokilly, MTU Cork and UCC.

Tonight’s two winners will advance to the preliminary semi-finals, while the losers of Avondhu-Carbery face Duhallow for a semi-final spot. The losers of that clash will then meet the Carrigdhoun-Muskerry losers for the last place.

The competition will then play out to find a winner who will progress to the divisions/colleges section proper along with the two college sides and Imokilly. Those four sides will then contest two semi-finals and a final, the winners of which will advance to the quarter-final stage of the county championship.

Last year, Imokilly were the side who made it through before losing out to Glen Rovers by a point, while in 2020, the first year of the new format for the county championships, UCC qualified for the quarter-finals, beating Na Piarsaigh before losing narrowly to Blackrock after extra time in the semi-finals.

Duhallow, Imokilly, Muskerry and Seandún took part last year but, despite making it to the final after beating Muskerry, Seandún are not in this year’s competition. Carbery return after missing out in 2020 and 2021, while Avondhu and Carrigdhoun also return after a similar hiatus.

Muskerry beat Duhallow in their opening game last year, triumphing by 3-22 to 0-9, only to fall to Seandún a week later, 3-17 to 0-16 the score in Ballincollig.

Cork U20 Brian Keating, right, will play for Muskerry tonight. Picture: Brendan Gleeson
Cork U20 Brian Keating, right, will play for Muskerry tonight. Picture: Brendan Gleeson

The Mid-Cork division are managed by well-known referee Diarmuid Kirwan (Éire Óg) and boast a strong squad, with Cork U20 panellists Brian Keating, Cian O’Driscoll and Tadhg O’Connell joined by their Ballincollig team-mates Fenton Denny, Jordan Murray and James Linehan. Bryan O’Mahony, Seán Sheehan and David O’Keeffe fly the Inniscarra flag while Cloughduv supply Eoin Clifford, Aidan Murphy and Mark Walsh.

Éire Óg’s contingent includes John Kelleher, Jerome Kelleher, Dylan Desmond, David Kirwan and Darragh Coakley while Matthew Bradley and Shane Tarrant are Aghabullogue players that are likely to feature.

Their opponents Carrigdhoun are under the management of Ballinhassig duo Pat Desmond and Brendan Lombard as well as Declan O’Neill of Shamrocks. The last time they took part was in 2019, when they lost out to Imokilly by 0-31 to 1-13.

The south-east division’s team is likely to include Ballygarvan’s Kevin Lyons – outstanding at full-back as Cork won the All-Ireland minor title last year and part of the U20 side this year – while Carrigaline’s Brian Kelleher and David Drake, Tracton’s Michael O’Sullivan, Colm Butler (Valley Rovers) and Michael Murphy and John O’Brien (Kinsale) are also expected to feature.

Carbery – again managed by Charlie Vaughan (St Colum’s), who has been in charge since 2017 – took on Kilbrittain in the Micheál Holland Cup in March, losing out by 1-13 to 1-12 on a tough day for hurling. Their squad that day included Argideen Rangers players Dylan Harrington, Matthew Lawton, Darren O’Donovan and Finbarr Butler while

Ballinascarthy provided Pádraic Cullinane, Conor O’Neill and Jeremy Ryan. Niall Barrett, Ger O’Donovan and Kieran O’Donovan formed the Diarmuid Ó Mathúnas contingent, with Barryroe duo James Moloney and Adam McSweeney, Dohents pair Bill Murphy and Denis Dullea and Aaron Hayes (St James’s), Seán Daly (Randal Óg) and Damien O’Gorman (Kilbree) were also involved.

Added to those are Kilbrittain's James Hurley, Maurice Sexton and Philip Wall, David Lowney of Clonakilty and former Cork star Michael Cahalane, eligible after Bandon's relegation to premier intermediate.

Carbery’s last involvement in the championship was in 2019, when they beat Avondhu by 2016 to 0-18 – repeating their victory of 2017 – and then lost to Imokilly by 0-24 to 0-10.

That loss to Carbery was Avondhu’s last championship game and they have Joe O’Brien (Harbour Rovers) as manager as they return to action. He is joined by selectors Joseph O'Sullivan (Ballygiblin), Jerry Ryan (Buttevant), John Roche (Clyda Rovers) and Liam Kenny (Kilworth).

Their squad includes Cork senior panellist Mark Keane and his Ballygiblin comrades Fionn Herlihy, Joseph O’Sullivan, Christopher Noonan, Colin English and Seán O’Sullivan, Nathan Byrne, Eoin McGrath and Jeremy Saich (all Kilworth), Brian Murphy (Milford), Araglen trio Ben Carey, Jack Kearney and Seán Hegarty, Ballyhooly’s Diarmuid Lenihan, Seán Linehan and Eoin Buckley as well as Patrick Sheehan of Castletownroche. Colin O’Brien of Liscarroll/Churchtown Gaels was an All-Ireland U20 winner with Cork while there is Harbour Rovers representation through Darragh O’Brien, Stephen Condon, John O’Sullivan and David O’Sullivan.

Brian Buckley of Dromina was part of the Cork squad that reached the 2017 All-Ireland minor final while Clyda Rovers’ Ben Nyhan was on last year’s all-conquering team.

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