SIX weeks after their maiden appearance in the Corn Ui Mhuiri (Munster Post-Primary Schools SFC), Clonakilty Community College can join the growing list of Cork sides through to the quarter-finals after Christmas.
Today, they meet St Flannan’s College, Ennis, in Group 1 in Ballyagran at 1.30 knowing victory will secure a last-eight place along with Group 2 winners St Francis College, Rochestown, and Group 4 winners Colaiste an Spioraid Naoimh and runners-up Hamilton High School, Bandon.
And in the splendid setting of the Astro pitch in Banteer, Skibbereen Community School can also book their knock-out spot in the Group 2 winner-take-all tie against Pobalscoil Chorcha Dhuibhne, also at 1.30.
Another place will be filled by the winner of the all-Kerry affair involving Colaiste na Sceilge, Caherciveen, and Mercy Mounthawk, Tralee, in Group 3 where it’s expected St Brendan’s, Killarney, will wrap up the section against Colaiste Choilm, Ballincollig, in Banteer at 12 noon.
Clon played their only game to-date at the end of October on Pairc Ui Chaoimh’s 4G pitch and showed their potential with a thumping 4-18 to 0-9 victory over Pobalscoil Rathmore, who, despite losing their two other games, were far more competitive in those subsequent outings.
The west Cork side are boosted by the presence of four Cork minors in their side, full-back Dan Twomey (Owen Gaels), midfielder Aaron Cullinane (Clonakilty) and the deadly duo of Olan O’Donovan (Ibane Gaels) and Darragh Gough (Clonakilty) up top.
Kilmeen and Carbery Rangers are other clubs represented in a team that faces a St Flannan’s outfit, which ran the holders Tralee CBS close in their first engagement, going down narrowly by 1-9 to 0-10 to suggest the Clare school have a bit about them.
Obviously, Clon caught Rathmore on a bad day, when O’Donovan, of the impressive mullet, and Gough ran riot, scoring 4-11 between them and all bar 0-1 from play with O’Donovan claiming 2-7.
They played with the strong wind from the start and established a 1-12 to 0-6 interval lead before cutting loose on the resumption, when an early second-half goal knocked the heart out of the Kerry school’s challenge.
Rathmore, though, regrouped in their remaining games, pushing Tralee to the wire before the champions survived by two points, 2-13 to 2-11, and then lost by the same margin to St Flannan’s in a game which had little riding for them, the Ennis school taking the spoils on a 4-10 to 2-14 score line.
Today’s game will be played on grass in the south Co Limerick venue, which staged the Limerick-Cork Munster U20 football game earlier in the year and has also housed games in the Dr Harty Cup.
It’s a brilliant surface and more than capable of taking whatever vagaries of the infamous Irish weather can throw at it, so it’s all set-up for what should be a cracking game.
Clon complete their section against Tralee on Monday in a tie that will either decide the group winners or fall into the must-win category for the west Cork school, so there’s an escape route if the result goes against them today.
Colaiste Choilm faced the most difficult tasks of all the Cork teams involved in the competition, the only non-Kerry side in a very competitive section and they conclude their Corn Ui Mhuiri campaign with another still examination from St Brendan’s.
Skibbereen reached the semi-final last season and they’ve over half-a-dozen survivors in their side against the Dingle school, who only need to avoid losing to advance.
Dingle and Skibb are level on two points apiece, but the west Kerry side have a better scoring difference of minus two compared to minus seven following their respective outings against section winners Rochestown, who won all three games.
Both defeated Presentation Milltown though in contrasting styles, Skibb having to wade through heavy going but still shooting 0-14 against Milltown’s 1-9 while Dingle surged 14 points ahead at the interval after scoring 3-3 inside the opening quarter of their wind-assisted first-half.
Skibb team comprises players from strongholds like Castlehaven, O’Donovan Rossa, Ilen Rovers and Tadhg MacCarthaighs with centre-forward Niall Daly contributing 0-7 against Milltown, benefitting, no doubt, from his experience with O’Donovan Rossa in the county SAFC this summer.