Sunday’s action opens with the third round of group fixtures in the Co-op Superstores Cork Premier IHC (2pm throw-ins).
Páirc Uí Rinn hosts the Group A meeting of Castlelyons and Éire Óg. Beaten finalists in each of the last two years, Castlelyons have recorded a win and a draw so far to top the second, but a defeat here could see them eliminated if the Carrigaline-Watergrasshill match in Blarney produces a victor.
Castlelyons have quality throughout, from goalkeeper Jack Barry up through Niall O’Leary, Colm Barry, Alan Fenton, Colm Spillane and Anthony Spillane but Éire Óg won’t be cowed. They will look to Kevin Hallissey, Colm O’Callaghan and Joe Cooper.
Carrigaline – a win over Éire Óg and a defeat by Castlelyons – and Watergrasshill – draws against those two – are both on two points, with Carrigaline having the slightest of scoring-difference advantages.
The south-east side had big displays from Brian Kelleher, David Griffin and Robert O’Shea against Éire Óg, while the Hill’s key men include Dáire O’Leary, Seán Desmond and Paddy O’Regan.
In Group B, Inniscarra lead the way after wins over Youghal and Bandon, so a third victory, against Valley Rovers in Cloughduv, would guarantee top spot and put them in the mix for an automatic semi-final place.
However, if Valleys – who got back on track after an opening loss to Bandon by beating Youghal – were to win, they would be in a good position as they are 16 points better off than the Lilywhites in terms of scoring difference. Ballygarvan is the venue for Bandon against Youghal.
Ballinhassig sit atop Group C after beating Kilworth and Ballincollig and they will look to make it three from three against last year’s IAHC winners Castlemartyr in Cobh. Cormac Desmond and Evan Cullinane have done well for them to date, but their East Cork opponents had players like Ciarán Joyce, Brian Lawton and Michael Kelly on the Imokilly side that won the divisions and colleges section of the Premier SHC and they will represent a stiff challenge.
Kilworth are level with Castlemartyr on two points and they face Ballincollig in Fermoy, knowing that the avoidance of defeat will suffice if Ballinhassig do maintain their 100 percent record.
Eoin Carey’s late goal from a penalty was key as Kilworth beat Castlemartyr last time out, while Noel McNamara had weighed in heavily on the scoreboard too. Ballincollig would need a huge win to qualify – if that were to happen then it’s likely that Brian Keating, Tadhg O’Connell and Rob Bourke would be central to the effort.
The Intermediate A groups come to a conclusion at 2pm tomorrow, with Aghabullogue and Dungourney meeting in Group B in Páirc Uí Rinn. Both teams are on two points, with Cloughduv already through after two wins and Douglas eliminated. Dungourney’s superior scoring difference means a draw would do them, but otherwise it’s a winner-take-all affair.
Shane Hegarty, James Ahern, Jack Leahy and Bryan Forbes are all key men for Dungourney, while Aghabullogue will look to Niall Buckley, Matthew Bradley and John Corkery as they seek to qualify.
Cloughduv and Douglas meet in Brinny as one side looks for the win that might send them past the quarter-finals and into the semi-finals while the other is seeking to extricate themselves from relegation fears. Mark Verling, Brian Verling, Stephen O’Donoghue, Brian Walsh and Jason Mannix have all done well for Cloughduv to date and they will be expected to make it three from three.
Last year’s Lower IHC (now Premier JHC) winners Lisgoold are top of Group A with three points after two games, while Aghada and Blackrock have two each with Midleton on one.
Lisgoold meet Aghada in Cloyne where the winners will go through, while a Blackrock win over Midleton in Carrigtwohill would guarantee progression. However, though the Magpies are bottom, a win for them and a Lisgood victory would see them advance.
Things are done and dusted in Group C, where Sarsfields and Kildorrery have both secured qualification with a game to spare after beating Mayfield and Meelin. Their clash in Fermoy will determine first and second place – and possibly a semi-final spot – while the other game, in Glantane, will be a battle to avoid finishing bottom.