Cork GAA: Credit Unions Senior Football League action is back this weekend

Ger McCarthy looks at how the West Cork clubs are shaping up before the ball is thrown in on Friday
Cork GAA: Credit Unions Senior Football League action is back this weekend

Clonakilty players David Lowney and Maurice Shanley getting in a fine tackle on Michael Hurley, Castlehaven, at Rosscarbery last season. Picture: Dan Linehan

A NEW season of Cork Credit Unions GAA Senior Football Leagues returns this weekend with west Cork clubs eager to build momentum ahead of the county championships.

Last year’s Cork PSFC and SAFC competitions began in late July and a similar timetable is occurring 12 months on.

Until then, the leagues offer managers, mentors, and players an opportunity to utilise their winter training programmes in competitive on-pitch settings.

The importance of the county football leagues is two-fold for the majority of those involved.

Step one, blood as many new players as possible from the U20 or minor ranks and increase the depth of your senior panel.

Step two, develop playing patterns, tactics and momentum. It also doesn’t hurt to get a look at what your upcoming (county) group opponents are doing, even at this early juncture of the season.

Cork GAA is not unlike other counties, with an increasing number of younger panellists opting to travel abroad at this time of year. That is a completely understandable choice for those looking to spread their wings and experience life in different corners of the planet.

Players flying off during the league campaign creates headaches for club managers unlikely to see those players shortly before championship.

So, ahead of throw-in, it is increasingly difficult to predict what the leagues have in store this year.

What’s certain is that the top seeds in the PSFC: Castlehaven, Carbery Rangers, Ballincollig, St Finbarr’s, Mallow, and champions Nemo Rangers will be anxious to hit the ground running.

Five of those six top seeds will meet in Division 1. Having travelled to Dubai to celebrate their county success, Nemo get the ball rolling in Division 1 at home to Ballincollig on tomorrow, a pre-cursor to their PSFC group tie.

At the very least, the other five teams making up this year’s Division 1: Éire Óg, Cill na Martra, Valley Rovers, Kiskeam, and Douglas, should benefit from facing the seeded PSFC clubs.

James McCarthy is back with Castlehaven for another tilt at the Andy Scannell Cup, while west Cork rivals Carbery Rangers have Seamus Hayes making his senior managerial debut. Castlehaven and Rangers last met in the 2021 PSFC with the former edging a close encounter 1-9 to 0-11 in Kilmacabea.

An early test of both teams league credentials takes place in Castlehaven on Sunday; it will also act as a warm-up for their Group A derby in the opening phase of championship.


There is no shortage of quality in Division 2 where Martin O’Brien’s maiden season in the Clonakilty dugout begins away to Carrigaline on Saturday.

The Brewery Town failed to qualify from their group last year. Narrow losses to Nemo and Castlehaven preceded a draw with Newcestown. That result was enough for Clon to avoid a relegation play-off.

O’Brien has a panel sprinkled with current and former Cork seniors, including Thomas Clancy, Maurice Shanley, Mark White, Sean White, and David Lowney. A positive league run would go a long way to preparing Clonakilty for championship showdowns with the Haven, Carbery Rangers, and Valley Rovers.

Clon are joined in Division 2 by fellow divisional clubs Newcestown and O’Donovan Rossa. The latter enjoyed a productive run in last year’s SAFC by finishing second in their group, before seeing of Dohenys to reach the penultimate round.

 Sean O'Donovan, Ilen Rovers, breaking between O’Donovan Rossa players Paudie Crowley and Mark Collins. Picture: Dan Linehan
Sean O'Donovan, Ilen Rovers, breaking between O’Donovan Rossa players Paudie Crowley and Mark Collins. Picture: Dan Linehan

There, eventual county champions St Michael’s proved too strong, but the nucleus of a young Rossa’s panel possesses the necessary quality to build on their 2022 heroics.

A positive return from their league outings is imperative for an O’Donovan Rossa team that faces Knocknagree, Kanturk, and Fermoy in this year’s SAFC. The Skibbereen club entertains one of that trio, Fermoy, in Sunday’s league outing.

Newcestown’s demotion from the top tier means the west Cork side needs to build momentum before facing into an SAFC ‘group of death’. West Cork rivals Dohenys and Ilen Rovers await, as do Bishopstown in Group C.

Before that, Newcestown kicks off a Division 2 campaign away to St Michaels while fellow Carbery clubs, Dohenys and Ilen Rovers, face onerous Division 3 League challenges away to Knocknagree and Bishopstown respectively.

So, an interesting league campaign awaits for Carbery divisional clubs eager to make an impact before the championship rolls around.

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