Plenty to please Cleary on opening weekend of county football championships

There were big wins for city clubs St Finbarr's and Nemo Rangers in the top tier and St Michael's in senior A
Plenty to please Cleary on opening weekend of county football championships

Nemo Rangers' Alan O'Donovan and Newcestown's Sean O'Donovan, compete in the air during their Cork Premier SFC clash at Brinny.

THIS night week club delegates to the monthly board meeting will endorse John Cleary’s nomination as the next Cork football manager for three years.

In the words of CEO Kevin O’Donovan ‘John’s graduation to the senior manager’s role is long overdue’ and many would concur with that.

Even though Cleary has been interim manager since Keith Ricken became ill it had been anticipated that the 2019 All-Ireland U20 winning boss would return next season.

However, the statement issued last week brought the St Vincent’s clubman’s well-being into focus and his decision to step down re-enforced the adage that ‘health is wealth’. In fact, it’s more, it’s everything.

Of course, it will be a major disappointment to Ricken, who gave his heart and soul to the position, but even in his brief term, he managed to strengthen the foundations first laid by his predecessor, Ronan McCarthy.

Many of that U20 side have broken through to the senior team and will form the backbone of the side in the seasons to come.

Sean Meehan (Kiskeam), Maurice Shanley (Clonakilty), Colm O’Callaghan (Eire Og), Brian Hayes (St Finbarr’s), Cathail O’Mahony (Mitchelstown), Damien Gore (Kilmacabea), Mark Cronin (Nemo Rangers), Blake Murphy (St Vincent’s), Brian Hartnett (Douglas), Paul Ring (Aghabullogue) and others represent the long-term future.

And Cleary will have been encouraged by the opening shots in the Bon Secours county championships at the weekend.

He will have observed the role played by Hayes for PSFC champions St Finbarr’s in their 1-12 to 0-9 win over Eire Og.

Apart from contributing 0-3, the positioning of Hayes at full-forward during the second-half offered another alternative as he was a handful as the target-man.

It certainly provided food-for-thought for manager Paul O’Keeffe, who pointed to Hayes’s powerful physique and sound handling as important elements in that role.

Cleary will also be pleased with O’Mahony’s 2-6 contribution alone in the first-half of his side’s emphatic 2-18 to 0-5 victory over Millstreet in IAFC.

And it was also encouraging to see Conor Corbett’s return from long-term injury, the 2019 All-Ireland minor winning captain playing 20 minutes of Clyda Rovers’ 1-13 to 1-12 SAFC win over Ilen Rovers and scoring the goal with his first touch, too.

One of the many features of the weekend was the 10 points scored by a lot of teams, 15 in all, across the four grades and Nemo Rangers had the same 2-10 tally in their PSFC and PIFC victories over Newcestown and Cill na Martra respectively.

Some teams managed to eke out wins with just 10 points-Castlehaven, Valley Rovers and Mallow in the top tier-and Castletownbere and the ’Barr’s second string further down the food change.

Carbery Rangers also posted 2-10 in their success against Carrigaline, but they share an unwelcome statistic with Valleys of sharing 28 wides between them.

The third year of the group format has cemented the importance of not losing round 1 games, hence the cautious approach by a lot of teams and resulting low scores.

There were just two draws across the 26 games-Glenville and Kildorrery being one in IAFC- but the losers in the other matches now find themselves under added pressure to avoid a second defeat in the next round of games on the weekend of August 12-14.

RESULTS: PSFC Group A: St Finbarr’s 1-12 Eire Og 0-9; Carbery Rangers 2-10 Carrigaline 1-9.

Group B: Valley Rovers 0-10 Douglas 1-6; Mallow 0-10 Ballincollig 0-6.

Group C: Nemo Rangers 2-10 Newcestown 1-5; Castlehaven 0-10 Clonakilty 1-5.

SAFC Group A: Newmarket 1-10 O’Donovan Rossa 3-16; Ilen Rovers 1-12 Clyda Rovers 1-13.

Group B: Bandon 0-10 Kiskeam 1-10; Ballingeary 0-13 Dohenys 1-10.

Group C: St Michael’s 2-12 Knocknagree 2-9; Bishopstown 2-6 Fermoy 0-16.

PIFC Group A: Cill na Martra 1-12 Nemo Rangers 2-10; Iveleary 4-10 St Vincent’s 0-8.

Group B: Bantry Blues 2-11 Aghada 1-9; Na Piarsaigh 0-4 Castletownbere 0-10.

Group C: Kanturk 4-13 Naomh Aban 0-9; Macroom 1-11 Rockchapel 1-12.

IAFC Group A: Kilshannig 3-18 Ballydesmond 0-7; Adrigole 0-12 Gabriel Rangers 2-8.

Group B: St Nick’s 4-8 Glanworth 1-13; Glenville 0-12 Kildorrery 0-12.

Group C: Boherbue 1-10 Glanmire 0-10; Mitchelstown 2-18 Millstreet 0-5.

Group D: Aghabulloge 0-12 Dromtarriffe 0-7; Ballinora 0-3 St Finbarr’s 0-10.

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