THE two Michael O'Connor Motor Factors Junior A Football Championship semi-finals take centre stage on the domestic fixture list in Imokilly this weekend.
Carraig na bhFear take on Cobh at (3pm) on Saturday in Glenville, with the second game involving Castlemartyr and Cobh getting underway two hours later in Killeagh.
Both matches make for exciting prospects. Carraig na bhFear and Castlemartyr were group winners and thus went straight through to the last four, whilst Cobh and Cloyne bring momentum with them on the back of their fine recent wins in their respective quarter final clashes.
Of the four remaining contenders, Cloyne have been by far the most successful in recent history of the competition. They have won four of their six titles since the turn of the millenium, completing a three in a row in 2010 and also bringing home the silverware in 2016.
Cobh, who have won the cup on nine occasions but lost last year's final, have not tasted outright success since 1998, whilst Castemartyr savoured the last of their six wins in 1991.
It's been 47 years since Carraig na bhFear triumphed for the only time in 1975.
Overall, there is real appetite among the four remaining contenders and thus two exciting and keenly contested games are in store on Saturday.
Carraig na bhFear topped their qualifying group with five points, defeating Youghal and Lisgoold either side of a share of the points with Erin's Own in their second encounter. They finished up as top scorers across the three qualifying groups and with a healthy +16 scoring difference.
Now they face a Cobh team who lost very little in defeat to Castlemartyr in a quality group game. Either side of that result the harbour town outfit have been very impressive. They got the result they needed in the concluding group game with a 1-9 to 0-8 success over Carrigtwohill and really caught the eye when defending champions Bride Rovers by 4-8 to 0-7 in their quarter-final.
With both clubs also very keenly contesting the junior hurling championship, the incentives are huge as a win for either would take them within 60 minutes of football glory and step nearer what might transpire to be a path to double glory. Carraig' will look to the likes of Paul O'Keeffe, Oisín Crowley and Paul Sheehan to continue their fine form whilst Cobh have players of top quality in Cian Spriggs, Diarmuid Kearney and Conor McLaoughin amongst others.
Cloyne under the guidance of influential player-manager Paudie O'Sullivan have ticked alot of boxes this season. Like opponents Castlemartyr, they play in the second tier of league football in the eastern division, but have earned a semi final place on merit. They set down an early season marker with victory over champions Bride Rovers first day out and when they posted a quick follow up win over Aghada, it meant qualification was secure. Thus, the defeat by 2-13 to 0-8 in their final group game could to a degree be overlooked as the men in black in red still finished as table toppers.
Next up was a tough test against Youghal and after a close hour a 2-11 to 1-12 win was recorded to secure a place in the last four. Colm O'Sullivan, Brian Walsh, Mikey Cahiil and co will be all out to keep the good run of results going this weekend.
In the opposite corner are a Castlemartyr team, who have had the shortest route to this stage of the competition. In fact, they only have played two hours of championship football, as Midleton gave them a walkover in their concluding round robin game. It meant that having drawn with Carrigtwohil in difficult weather conditions on day 1, their 2-12 to 2-10 win over Cobh in Lisgoold allied to the two points awarded for the Midleton game, secured top spot in the group 2 and a place in the last four. Whilst like Cloyne, the majority of the squad have been fully focused on hurling in recent weeks, all eyes are this week on the big ball and the prize of a place in the final. The Kelly brothers, Niall O'Donovan and Cathal Martin will be amongst those hoping to help the reds over the line in what looks set to be another close contest.
Finally, in the East Cork Oil junior 'A' grade hurling championship there is one important fixture on the immediate horizon, as Erin's Own take on Watergrasshill on Monday evening next.