THE U-21 Football Championship opens on Friday with a number of attractive games down for decision. For the campaign ahead, five teams are involved in both A/B grades with the promise of rousing battles on the cards.
Again amalgamations are accepted to counter clubs unable to come up with numbers and the concept offers meaningful competition. The pick of the first round A grade tussles is the repeat of last season's decider between Millstreet and Blackwater Gaels.
To an absorbing 2012 contest, Millstreet were pushed all the way by a spirited Gaels comprising a Lyre and Cullen amalgamation that threatened to leave their mark on the game and the woodwork denied the challengers at crucial stages to the second half.
At crucial stages, Millstreet blended intensity and a highly impressive workrate that carved out excellent scores. The defending holders will look to the guidance of Alan Murphy, Michael Vaughan and Kevin Crowley for encouragement.
Gaels aren't to be discounted, boosted by Kevin Tarrant, Gearóid Twomey, Tomás O'Keeffe and Aaron Nolan to promote their cause. With the bulk of last season's side on duty, Gaels possess a highly rated outfit that will endeavour to go the extra step in this campaign.
Meanwhile Kiskeam renew rivalry against Kanturk in Millstreet on Friday night. At the same stage last season, it took extra time to divide the pair where a physically stronger Kanturk took charge in the second spell of extra time to record a seven point win.
Kiskeam boost members of a County MAFC winning side from 2010 with Diamuid and Gene Casey, Jamie and Rob Carroll in the frame though their prospects are hindered by injuries.
Kanturk, fronted by Lorcan O'Neill, Mark Healy, Joe Carver, Shane and Ian Walsh, can look to promising talent too given many of their starting line collected Co. MAFC honours in 2011. With talent aplenty aboard on both sides, expect another tight affair.
From the B grade, Boherbue and Croke Rovers promise a close engagement in Castlemagner on Saturday. Boherbue are the defending holders, looking to Kevin Cremin and James Casey for encouragement though the injured Billy O'Gorman is a loss. Rovers gave Millstreet a close run last season, the Sheahans , Niall Field and Brendan O'Mahony central to their game.
Dromtariffe take on St. Peters in Rockchapel in the second semi-final. Daniel Curtin is central to St. Peters side while Dromtariffe hope a run of injuries clear in a team backboned by Tony Fitzpatrick, Alan Dennehy and Daniel O'Keeffe.
The Ducon Cup continues on Sunday, Cullen and Knocknagree seeking their third wins on away visits to Kilbrin and Newmarket respectively. Castlemagner look for a second win on a trip to Dromtariffe while Lyre and Millstreet tussle in Banteer.
Duhallow U-21 Football
U21 'A' FC Round 1
Blackwater Gaels v Millstreet; Kiskeam v Kanturk, Pobal Uí Chaoímh a Bye.
Pobal Uí Chaoimh v losers (Kiskeam/Kanturk).
U21 'B' FC Round 1
Dromtariffe v St Peters, Croke Rovers v Boherbue Robert Emmets (bye)
Robert Emmets v losers (Croke Rovers/Boherbue)