CARBERY have a slight advantage over UCC, when they meet in the divisions/colleges section of the Bon Secours PSFC in Macroom this evening at 7.30.
The other game features MTU Cork Campus against Duhallow in Glantane at the same time with the winners progressing to the final at Pairc Ui Rinn on Sunday.
The ultimate prize is a place in the quarter-finals proper and a showdown with the second ranked side.
Carbery have already played unlike the other three teams and that impressive 3-18 to 0-11 victory over Avondhu reflected the serious approach taken by the south-west representatives.
There were some noteworthy contributions from key players, like Ruairi Deane’s 1-4 from centre-forward and Brian O’Driscoll adding 0-5 from midfield, where his energetic runs caused their opponents all sorts of problems.
The other goals came from defenders, corner-back Dylan Scannell from St Mary’s and Ger O’Callaghan from Gabriel Rangers raiding from deep to finish off flowing moves.
Sean Daly from Randal Og popped up with 0-3, two from frees, while Keith O’Driscoll from Gabriel Rangers enhanced his prospects of starting on this occasion with an eye-catching 0-3 from the bench.
Carbery are managed by Tim Buckley, who has Micheal ‘Haulie’ O’Sullivan from Carbery Rangers on board as coach.
Other clubs represented include Ballinascarthy, Kilmeen and Barryroe while the Dineens, John, Jerry and Stephen, and Sean O’Donovan are selectors.
As is the way, College won’t know for sure who they’ll have until closer to the throw-in as they await news of player availability.
It’s an annual struggle as Development Officer John Grainger outlined.
“The ruling which only allows us to nominate just four players from each of the divisions doesn’t help because if they’re not available then we can’t pick others to replace them.
“We also don’t have access to Cork players and that’s another reason why we have to go to other counties for players.”
College are hoping to have Kilshannig keeper Gavin Creedon, Bill Curtin and Ciaran O’Sullivan along with Ian Jennings from Kilmacabea and Neil Lordan from Ballinora.
“There are club games also in the other counties, notably Kerry and Tipperary, so that will also affect our plans, but, potentially, we could have four from Kerry, Diarmuid O’Connor, Conor Geaney, Killian Falvey and Cian Gammell.”
The sides have met for the last two seasons with the students winning narrowly by 0-16 to 0-11 before pipped by Duhallow in a thriller after extra-time, the north west representatives emerging victorious by 4-20 to 6-12.
Last season, College defeated Muskerry by 2-13 to 2-11, but Duhallow again had their measure by two points in the final though in a more cagey affair, 0-10 to 0-8.
Meanwhile, Kanturk are likely to have an interest in both Duhallow and MTU as the club expects to supply players to both.
The students are set to have Daniel O’Connell and Tommy Walsh along with others also with inter-county experience, defender Paul Ring (Aghabullogue) and dangerous forward Damien Gore (Kilmacabea), for example.
Macroom midfielder Cillian O’Donovan was part of a strong Sigerson Cup team, too, while Adam Murphy (Aghabullogue) and Ryan O’Donovan (Barryroe) underscore the potential.
It's a welcome return to the championship for the Bishopstown college, having skipped the last two years.
It’s the spirit of giving players a chance which prevails.
“We have players from junior clubs who want to play, like Dylan O’Connell from Castletownroche and Denis Collins, whose club Glengarriffe folded,” Spratt added.
Duhallow start favourites even though they won’t have the services of Newmarket players following their promotion to senior A level.
But they continue to have strong premier intermediate sides like Kanturk and Rockchapel, lower intermediate clubs Millstreet, Ballydesmond and newcomers Boherbue along with junior clubs Dromtarriffe and Castlemagner.
Last year Duhallow were pipped by a point by Clonakilty in the quarter-finals and Clon had the same margin of victory over Douglas before also losing by a point to St Finbarr’s in the final.