THE final round of Bon Secours Cork GAA PSFC and SAFC group matches sees west Cork clubs requiring victories for different reasons.
Three of the four south western clubs involved in Group C of the Cork PSFC are in with a chance of making the knockout stages.
Nemo Rangers lead the way on maximum points.
The Trabeg outfit will be favourites to overcome a Clonakilty team that required a Joe Grimes equaliser to earn a draw with Newcestown last time out.
Clon and Nemo possess a rich history of memorable county championship encounters.
Last year’s runners-up will need something extra-special to overcome a Rangers outfit intent on finishing the group with an unblemished record.
Brian White, David Lowney, Ross Mannix and Sean Daly will be crucial to Clonakilty’s hopes of causing an upset.
The other Group C encounter is a west Cork derby between Castlehaven and Newcestown.
This game is a repeat of last year’s clash which the Haven won 2-12 to 1-10 and the 2021 meeting where the former also triumphed 1-12 to 0-9.
History suggests a Castlehaven team unfortunate to lose to Nemo will have too much firepower for their fellow Carbery divisional opponents. Avoiding a relegation dogfight may yet come down to Clonakilty and Newcestown’s scoring difference which currently stands at -2 (Clon) and -8 (Newcestown).
Having failed to emerge from the group stages over the past two seasons, Declan Hayes’ outfit saw off Carrigaline and Éire Óg to book their place in the knockout phase.
Deservedly so too, on the back of impressive displays plus John O’Rourke, Peadar O’Rourke, Alan Jennings, Jack Kevane and Darragh Hayes’ consistent efforts. The pressure is off Rangers ahead of facing county champions St Finbarr’s.
O’Donovan Rossa’s derby victory over Ilen Rovers means the former has already secured a berth in the Cork SAFC knockout stages.
The Skibbereen side take on Clyda Rovers in Coachford after having gained maximum points from their Ilen and Newmarket encounters.
Tomás Hegarty, Kevin Davis, Dylan Hourihane, Mark Collins and Donal Óg Hodnett’s current form suggests O’Donovan Rossa will continue their winning trend.
As for Ilen Rovers, the spectre of a second successive relegation is a harsh reality. Creditably, Rovers were competitive in both losses to Skibbereen and Clyda.
A scoring average of 1-10 must be improved upon if Newmarket are to be overcome. With 2-9 already racked up in this year’s championship, Dan Mac Eoin is Ilen’s most important forward.
Mac Eoin needs help from the likes of Sean O’Donovan, Adrian O’Driscoll and Conor O’Driscoll if Ilen are to secure a badly needed victory.
There is a similar contrast in Cork SAFC Group B with Dohenys and Bandon sitting at opposite ends of the table.
A full-forward line of Gavin Farr, Mark Buckley and Keith White inspired the Dunmanway side to victory over the lilywhites recently.
As a result, nothing but a victory will suffice for Bandon against Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh to avoid slipping into an unwanted relegation play-off.
As for Dohenys, Declan O’Dwyer’s free-scoring team (1-30 accrued in two group matches) will fancy their chances against a Kiskeam team also chasing a place in the knockout stages.
Last year’s Cork SAFC semi-finalists Dohenys are in rude health and capable of improving on their 2021 championship heroics.