Intriguing contest of two divisional outfits
County SFC: Duhallow v Muskerry, Monday, April 17, Kanturk, 3pm
Duhallow renew rivalry against familiar opponents and near neighbours Muskerry in the opening round to the County SFC in Kanturk on Easter Monday.
This is the fifth clash between the pair over the past decade, from 2010, a seven point victory margin suggested something of a comprehensive 1-14 to 0-10 win for Duhallow, but in truth the game remained in doubt up to the concluding stages. Twelve months on, Muskerry made light work of Duhallow following a 0-15 to 0-6 opening round triumph at Cloughduv.
All through this contest, the Mid Cork side brought an impressive order and control to their game. Just the minimum separated the pair in 2014, former county player Fintan Goold emerged the hero for Muskerry on landing a sublime 63rd min point winner to secure a 0-15 to 0-14 winner at the end of a thrilling Round 2.
And when the sides clashed in a round 2 tussle in 2015 at Macroom, a pair of clinically crafted goals in the opening half coupled with a masterly display of point taking from county player Donncha O'Connor guided Duhallow to a 2-17 to 1-14 triumph.
A big task lays ahead for Duhallow, in 2017, they will be without the services of Kiskeam players who will perform with their club in the same championship. Again Padraig Kearns, Jimmy Dennehy, Cormac Linehan and William O'Leary form the Duhallow management line, looking to build a formidable line up on and off the field to mount a serious challenge.
Inclement weather, club games and an early start has hindered Duhallow's preparations. Team captain is Bart Daly to a side that will include John McLoughlin, Kevin Crowley, Donncha O'Connor, Seamus Hickey, Anthony and Jerry O'Connor, while there are injury concerns about Aidan Walsh, Matthew Dilworth and Michael Vaughan.
Newcomers to this season's panel and pressing for starting places are Aidan Browne (Newmarket), Paul Walsh (Kanturk), Dermot Hickey (Cullen) while Eamon O'Callaghan makes a welcome return from injury.
Muskerry has a selection committee in place that will be very much aware of the areas where there are players who can compete at senior level. This management team led by Noel Twomey Macroom and also including Barry Corkery (Éire Óg) Donal McSweeney (Ballinora), J Moss (Kilmurry) and John O'Callaghan Iveleary will endeavor to arrive at an effective combination and we wish them well.
Pat Buckley (Aghabullogue) or Chris Kelly (Éire Óg) could be in goal and there are experienced figures seeking places in defence: the Éire Óg trio John Mullins, Dan O'Connor and Fionn O'Rourke, Amhlaoibh Ó Loinsigh and Lionaírd O'Choncúír (Beal Athan Ghaorthaidh), Sean Kiely (Macroom), Séamus Ó Máthúna (Naomh Abán) and Conor Cotter (Kilmichael).
Former Cork senior and long serving Muskerry stalwart, Macroom's Fintan Goold is sure to be at centre field where he could be partnered by Micheál Ó Laoire of Naohm Abán and there are talented players seeking places in the Muskerry attack.
Those seeking inclusion are David Horgan and David Goold (Macroom) John Corkery (Aghabullogue) Daniel Goulding (Éire Óg) who was in top form with his club last weekend, Peter Kelleher (Kilmicheal) Joe Ryan (Kilmurry) Seamus Ó Laoire and Donncha Ó Ceocháin (Naomh Abán) and Sean O Donoghue (Inniscarra).
There is certainly potential in the Muskerry panel and players have been active in recent weeks in league outings with their club and some were involved at inter county level.
They should be reasonably well prepared for the fray and a good presence of team spirit could see Muskerry surmounting the Duhallow Challenge. Likewise Muskerry will avail of a skilful line up with players drawn from Beál Atha'n Ghaorthaidh, Macroom, Cill na Martra, Éire Óg, Naomh Abán, Aghabullogue and Kilmurry central to their line up.
Last season, Muskerry easily overcame Aghada in round 1 before delivering creditable showings only to incur six point defeats to both Nemo Rangers and Avondhu.
With a strong line up, Muskerry will bring a set of impressive credentials to Kanturk and Duhallow are under no illusions as to the task confronting them.
The winner of Duhallow/Muskerry encounter face Seandun/St Nicholas in round 2 with the loser tackling Carbery Rangers/Clonakilty,