Cork hurling: Paudie Palmer picks the winners and losers in all five club tiers 

From Premier Junior to Premier Senior, the last group games in the Cork hurling championship will decide which clubs make the knockout stages and who heads for the Slán Leat relegation finals
Cork hurling: Paudie Palmer picks the winners and losers in all five club tiers 

Carrigtwohill's Sean Walsh looks to shoot as Bride Rovers' Ronan O'Connell closes in. Picture: David Keane.

Last weekend had a Covid-esque feeling to it.

Or maybe one of those Lá na gClubanna initiatives would be a more accurate description.

Since the commencement of the McGrath Cup, every weekend has us engaged in either the inter-county gig or the club championship. Then the vacuum, where up to Sunday evening, adult GAA activity in Rebel land was at a premium.

However, it was great that the finals of Divisional/Colleges Premier Senior Hurling and Football had the stage to themselves. As mentioned previously, devising a perfect formula for these competitions would be more challenging than solving the housing crisis, but for the moment, this year's offering worked quite well.

The Imokilly side that made the quarter-finals of the PSHC. Picture: Denis Boyle
The Imokilly side that made the quarter-finals of the PSHC. Picture: Denis Boyle

Credit to the Cork County Board for allocating it a slot on the fixtures schedule and for affording both competitions full status in terms of trophy and medal presentations.

Credits also to the various divisional boards for putting management teams in place, who applied themselves in so far as they could in ensuring the players felt it was worth the effort.

UCC and MTU may have a slightly different view but that's for another day.

Imokilly and Carbery will now play the lowest seeded club runners-up when the group stages are completed.

Imokilly, a team with an abundance of quality, will find out who they face at approximately 5.30pm on Sunday. A week later, Carbery, who have already played five competitive games, will know theirs.

Carbery star Brian O'Driscoll tackled by Duhallow's Kevin Cremin at Páirc Uí Rinn last weekend. Picture: Denis Boyle
Carbery star Brian O'Driscoll tackled by Duhallow's Kevin Cremin at Páirc Uí Rinn last weekend. Picture: Denis Boyle

The all-important round three section of the nine adult county championships will be completed of the next two weekends. In total 56 games involving 112 teams will ensure boredom will not be an issue.

So, what will be the statistical standing at around 5.30pm on September 4?

56 teams will have reached the knockout stages. 16 will contest Slán Leat finals, and four will be relegated, the bottom side in each of the four IAFC groups.

The reminding 36 can take solace in the fact that at least they preserved their status not to mention the saving of a few bob that will accrue from the cessation of activities.

To ensure fairness, all games in the respective championships will throw in at the same time and I would imagine one of the backup crew will be tasked with keeping an eye on what is happening in the other games.

For the concluding hurling games this weekend, the throw-in time are as follows, starting on Friday, at 7pm with Premier Junior. Saturday at 2pm it's Intermediate A, then 7pm for Senior A. On Sunday, it's 2pm for Premier Intermediate and 4pm for Premier Senior.

It’s a while since I embarked on some forecasting so the usual health warnings are attached!

Premier Senior

In the Premier Senior, Douglas and Midleton should win their games and qualify. Likewise with Erin’s Own and the Glen.

Blackrock will be expected to beat Charleville but the real crucial game in this championship is the meeting of St Finbarr’s and Sars, for what it is worth we will go with the Castlehaven back-boned side.

As for the relegation play-off, Kanturk and Na Piarsaigh appear to be in pole position.

Senior A

In Senior A, Newcestown should get over Cloyne with the winners of Fermoy and Mallow getting the other spot, we will stick with Mallow.

Fr O’Neill’s are already qualified but the real crucial game is the meeting of last year's PIHC winners Courcey Rovers and the improving young Blarney team.

So difficult to call that.

In the final group, Bride Rovers are more or less assured of qualification with the winners of surprise packet Ballyhea and Carrigtwohill joining them.

For the relegation stakes, can we nominate Ballymartle and Cloyne. 

Premier Intermediate

Probably the most difficult championship to call is the Premier Intermediate but here goes, Castlelyons and Carrigaline to beat Éire Óg and Watergrasshill respectively to qualify from that group.

Inniscarra and Bandon should get the better of Valley Rovers and Youghal to move to the knockout saloon.

In the final group, I fancy Ballinhassig and Kilworth to emerge victorious over Castlemartyr and Ballincollig to progress.

 Ballinhassig keeper Patrick Collins and defender Patrick O'Leary try to keep possession from Castlelyons' Anthony Spillane. Picture: Larry Cummins
Ballinhassig keeper Patrick Collins and defender Patrick O'Leary try to keep possession from Castlelyons' Anthony Spillane. Picture: Larry Cummins

Here it is hard to look beyond Ballincollig and Youghal for a visit to the departures lounge. 

Intermediate A

As we are on a roll, real or imaginary, we will head to IA. In Group 1, all four have a chance of qualifying with the winners of Aghada and Lisgoold Uí going to pole position.

I think Midleton should defeat Blackrock. In Group 2, Cloughduv should get the better of Douglas and qualify for a semi-final spot with the winners of Aghabullogue and Dungourney joining them, with the East Cork side getting the tentative vote.

In the relegation play-off, Douglas and Meelin are currently in pole position.

Premier Junior

Finally, to the PJ, in group 1, Kilbrittain and Milford will be fancied against Barryroe and St Finbarr’s respectively which will see them qualify.

To group 2 both Argideen Rangers and Ballygibblin are through with the game between them to decide who gets the semi-final spot.

Ballygarvan will be expected to defeat Dripsey consigning the Mid Cork team to the relegation play-off with the losers of Glen Rovers and St Catherine’s to join them.

So now, dear reader, you have your guide and I am looking forward to a massive weekend of twists and turns as well as an amount of top-class hurling!

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