Barrs should hold the edge on Ballincollig
RUNNERS-UP for the second consecutive year in 2010, St Finbarr's have generally been there-or-thereabouts in the race for county senior football championship glory in the meantime.
Ballincollig v St Finbarr's
(Saturday, Pairc Ui Rinn 6.45pm)
Eliminated, after a replay, at the quarter-final stage two years ago by eventual champions Castlehaven, their conquerors as well in 2011, they would have been disappointed with their showing when bowing out to Carbery Rangers in Round 4 last season.
Their desire to atone for that below-par display will, no doubt, serve a huge spur as they attempt to get back to winning ways in Saturday night's championship opener against Ballincollig. The Mid-Cork men, involved in a relegation semi-final in 2011, have struggled to make a decent impact over the past few years, although they made an encouraging start in the 2013 campaign, advancing by virtue of a convincing win over Douglas.
They were soundly thrashed by divisional side Carbery in Round 4, however, and, realistically, they wouldn't be ranked among the leading contenders for the title in the summer ahead. At the same time, Ballincollig have the potential to trouble any opposition on their best form, and, with Cork senior panelists Paddy Kelly and Noel Galvin, along with Under 21 player Sean Kiely, on board, they are entitled to command a certain amount of respect.
It wouldn't go down as a major surprise should they deliver the goods against the Barrs, especially if the talismanic Kelly puts his best foot forward on the '40. The likelihood is that Michael Shields will be detailed with the task of curbing Kelly's influence, and the individual duel between those two vastly experienced inter-county performers could well have a vital bearing.
The Barrs will also be looking to Cork Under 21 star Ian Maguire to make a big input at midfield, and, in view of their greater consistency in recent years, they seem a safer bet to prevail.
Verdict: St Finbarr's