FOUR will become two tonight in the battle to progress to the latter stages of the divisions and colleges group of the Premier SHC.
With UCC, MTU Cork and Imokilly given byes to the semi-finals – from which one team will advance to the quarter-finals proper – there is one spot up for grabs among the other five divisions, who have been in action since June 7.
That night, Carrigdhoun bested Muskerry after extra time while Avondhu saw off Carbery, with the two losing sides and Duhallow then playing off to determine who else advanced, with Duhallow and Muskerry beating Carbery to complete the foursome.
Coachford is the venue as Carrigdhoun take on Duhallow and the south-east side will hope that the three-week lay-off has not left them rusty. While they trailed for long periods against Muskerry in their opening game in Bandon, they had enough staying power to first force a draw in normal time and then push on to take victory in the additional 20 minutes.
Brian Kelleher of Carrigaline scored 13 of the 23 points for Carrigdhoun, while his brother Ronan and Kinsale’s Michael Murphy also contributed. Former Cork player Michael O’Sullivan (Tracton) and Colm Butler (Valley Rovers) combined well at midfield, with Kevin Kavanagh (Carrigaline) key at centre-back.
Kavanagh will face a stern test from Duhallow’s key attacker, Dromtarriffe’s Tomás Howard, who scored 11 points – eight from play – against Carbery, while his brother Seán was instrumental at midfield and scored the late winner after the south-west team had come back from six points down with time almost up.
Another Dromtarriffe man, Brandon Murphy, was impressive in attack, while clubmate Conor O’Callaghan missed out through injury and would be a big asset if available. Cathal Browne of Newmarket is another player who can wield influence in attack.
Like Carrigdhoun, Avondhu must try to overcome the three-week break, having duked it out with Carbery until a late goal from Stephen Condon of Harbour Rovers allowed them to push on for a five-point win, 2-23 to 3-15.
Jeremy Saich of Kilworth adds to the potency of the attack. Current senior panellist Mark Keane (Ballygiblin) captained the side from centre-back while Kilworth goalkeeper Kieran Walsh brings valuable experience between the sticks.
In Donoughmore, they will come up against a Muskerry side that could have won their first game against Carrigdhoun but regrouped to overcome Carbery last Tuesday. It wasn’t a perfect performance from the Mid-Cork side, who had 11 first-half wides as they trailed by 0-9 to 0-6 at half-time, but they were much improved in the second half and ran out winners on a scoreline of 2-16 to 0-10.
The addition of Cork’s Seán O’Donoghue and his Inniscarra team-mates Seán Sheehan and Bryan O’Mahony gave Muskerry a boost, while teenage Ballincollig attackers Cian O’Driscoll, Tadhg O’Connell and Brian Keating give a vibrancy to their attack. Others to catch the eye were Mark Walsh and Eoin Clifford (both Cloughduv) and Kevin Murphy (Ballinora).
Neither game should be too one-sided and it would not surprise if extra time were needed at one of the venues – as ever, player availability and unavailability will be a factor. The winning sides meet in the final of this stage next Tuesday.