A big weekend of action lies ahead
County PIFC: Ballingeary v Bandon, Saturday April 15, Cloughduv 6.30pm
Ballingeary have been one of the leading contenders for the PIFC title for the past few years, reaching the quarter-finals in 2015, and going under by the minimum of margins to eventual champions Kiskeam at the semi-final stage last season.
They will be expected to go well again in the campaign ahead, but they will face a tricky opening assignment against Bandon, who will carry considerable momentum into the contest, having tasted county championship success at junior and intermediate level in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
With the bulk of the same players on duty, Bandon also lifted the county premier intermediate hurling title last year, so they are bound to be brimming with confidence at the moment.
Their ace attacker is Mark Sugrue, but Barry Collins, Adam Murphy and Darren Crowley are other forwards capable of turning on the style, while James O'Donovan, Philip Crowley and James Walsh are the West Cork side's defensive mainstays.
Ballingeary will be looking to Andreas O'Conceannain, Ben Shorten and Liam Shorten to provide much of the inspiration up front, and such as Amhlaoibh O'Loinsigh, Colmain O'Tuama and Cain O'Duinnin are tried-and-trusted defenders, but perhaps it's their formidable midfield pairing of Eoin O'Coill and Eanna O'Duinnin who will hold the key to a victory that isn't going to be earned easily.
County IFC, Millstreet v Mayfield, Saturday April 15, Carrigadrohid 6pm
County junior kingpins in 2014, Millstreet found the going tough in their first year operating at intermediate level, registering just one win in four championship outings.
They fared out much better last season, however, claiming the scalps of Aghabullogue, Ballydesmond and St Finbarr's in turn to advance to the semi-finals where they were well beaten by Rockchapel.
With another year of experience in intermediate football under the belt, they will obviously be hoping to show a similar rate of improvement this season, and they would appear to be in with a decent chance of opening their campaign on a positive note against Mayfield.
The city side reached the county IFC final in 2014, losing out to Fermoy after a replay, but they didn't exactly cover themselves in glory last year. Having lost to St Finbarr's in Round 1, they needed a replay to get the better of struggling Kinsale next time out and they eventually made their exit from the title race when shipping an eleven-point defeat from Mitchelstown in Round 4.
They did show their potential when smoothly dispatching Kildorrery in Round 3, and they will have to be respected in view of their progress to the decider two years ago, but Millstreet should have their measure providing their key players Michael Vaughan, Paul Coleman, Mark Ellis, Tadgh Collins and Cork senior Kevin Crowley strike top form.
Kilnamartyra v Gabriel Rangers, Saturday April 15, Drimoleague 6pm
For the second year in-a-row, Kilnamartyra's opening test in the intermediate football will be against a newly-promoted team.
They got the job done in good style against Bandon 12 months ago, and they followed up with equally convincing victories over Kildorrery and Kanturk, which meant they were installed as warm favourites to continue on their winning way when they renewed rivalry with their Round 1 opponents in the semi-final.
Not only did Kilnamartyra come up short, however, they failed to raise a gallop on the day, and their feeble display was by no means a reflection of their true worth.
The expectation is they will be there-or-thereabouts again this year, and it's unlikely Gabriel Rangers will deny them a victory next Saturday evening.
It's a big occasion for the Schull-Ballydehob men, as the club will be competing at intermediate level for the very first time, and it remains to be seen how they will cope with the pressure.
They aren't short on quality, particularly in attack where the likes of Mark Cronin, Eddie Goggin, Chris Moynihan and Sean Kelleher were hugely impressive during their historic march to county junior success last year when Stephen O'Mahony, a Cork minor in 2010, also played a starring role at midfield.
As with Bandon in the opening round twelve months ago, however, they could find the experienced Kilnamartyra side a bit too hot to handle, especially if Micheál O'Deasuna, last year's Cork minor Tadgh O'Corcora, Gearoid O'Goille, Shane O'Duinnin, Graham O'Mochain and ace attacker Daniel O'Duinnin put their best foot forward for the Gaeltacht outfit.