Wednesday 16 January 2019

A busy weekend ahead for local sides

County IFC Round 1: Mitchelstown v Kinsale, Sunday April 15, Watergrasshill, 3pm

Diarmuid Sheehan & John Tarrant

Mitchelstown head back into Intermediate championship football action after a long and well-earned break from the heat of last season's championship action.

For the last few years Mitchelstown have been seen as one of the sides to beat at this grade with heavy support flowing in for them every time they play.

Players of the calibre of Shane Beston will always grab the attention when Mitchelstown come to play and this year's opening round fixture is unlikely to be any different as Beston and his colleagues attempt to get off to the best possible start.

Last season the men in red and black looked set to finally make the jump to premier however they came up against a Kanturk club that were riding the crest of a wave to the hurling and football titles.

Mitchelstown have come close far too often to not be considered one of the favourites again this season however all the knock backs they have received in recent years are sure to take some toll - having said all that, a good win early on can blow away the winter cobwebs and get Mitchelstown back on the road to the showpiece game.

Mitchelstown are far from a one trick pony, (Beston) even if that pony is top class, as they also have the services of Shane Cahill who usually fills the centre forward space.

Both players, along with a host of other hugely talented and committed stars such as Michael Walsh, Sean O'Sullivan and Cathal O'Mahony are all well placed to help their side through to the next round but a lot will obviously depend on what Kinsale bring to this particular party.

Last year Kinsale failed to flatter and had to go all the way to the Relegation Play-off Round 2 before taking a win. Kinsale will need to bring an awful lot more to the table this time round if they are to see off a Mitchelstown side that will be clear and deserving favourites here.

County IFC Round 1: Kildorrery v Glanmire, Saturday April 14, Fermoy, 6.15pm

Next Saturday evening in Fermoy, Kildorrery and Glanmire will lock horns to see who will get their respective intermediate football championship seasons of to the best possible start. Both sides will have genuine beliefs that this could be their year after putting in credible shifts last time round.

Glanmire looked to be going well last season but came a cropper against the highly fancied Rockchapel in Round 3. The loss was a premature end to a season that was beginning to show promise so the men in blue will be eager to get back to winning ways as soon as possible.

For Kildorrery, the mantle of title favourites is never too far away at this grade as Kildorrery continue to show all the attributes required to succeed without crossing the Intermediate finish line.

Last year's disappointing exit at the semi-final stage to the eventual winners Kanturk was a real hammer blow to a team that impressed from the first time they took to the field. This tie is a repeat of the first round in 2017 which Kildorrery won by 3-13 - 1-13. Don't be surprised if this one is a little closer this weekend.

Shane O'Neill, Finbarr Stapleton and James O'Sullivan will have a major say for Kildorrery in not only the outcome next weekend but also in how the north cork club will go this season.

Kildorrery will be dead set on getting off to a flyer this weekend with a target of at least making it to the last two.

Glanmire will be difficult opposition but it is hard to see past Kildorrery this time round.

County IFC Round 1: Knocknagreee v Rockchapel, Sunday April 15, Newmarket 3pm

The pairing of 2014/16 finalists Rockchapel against debutants Knocknagree is sure to generate interest in.

Though defeated by Éire Óg in 2014, Rockchapel bounced back and can be described as somewhat unlucky against Bandon in the 2016 decider.

Last season, Rockchapel recovered from a narrow defeat by Kanturk to reach the quarter final only to incur a two point defeat to eventual finalists Mitchelstown. The progress of Knocknagree is well versed, taking their place at intermediate level for the first time since 1992.

Having broken Kerry's dominance in the Munster JAFC, Knocknagree targeted the All Ireland series, bettering Donegal side Naomh Colmcille and Multyfarnham (Westmeath) to savour outright glory in Croker.

The latest clash revives memories of their last competitive clash dating back to the 2012 Duhallow JAFC quarter final where a rampant Rockchapel let their football do the talking on outclassing Knocknagree in a one sided contest.

Of course, both sides have moved on from that confrontation, Rockchapel now a seasoned outfit in the intermediate grade with Knocknagree sure to bring plenty of enthusiasm.

Despite the weather, Rockchapel have seen plenty of action over recent weeks in the County FL Division 3, wins over Dohenys and Bantry Blues, offset on losses to Fermoy and Carrigaline.

For their part, Knocknagree in Division 5, waited to last weekend for their first competitive tussle and a good test earned a win over St. Finbarrs.

Bragging rights is up for grabs here, the tussle may be somewhat diluted on the fact that both winner and loser will advance into round 3 to ensure end of summer football at least.

The formbook may point to Knocknagree yet time and again, Rockchapel have reserved their best form for the championship.

Verdict: Knocknagree

County IFC Round 1: Aghabullogue v Ballydemond, Sunday April 15, Millstreet 3pm

Neither side reached a quarter-final last season yet between them, they played eleven championship games where interestingly, both recovered from hefty defeats at the hands of St Finbarrs' second string.

Ballydesmond got their act together after an eighteen point drubbing to better Youghal and Glenville (replay).

That secured a meeting with Mitchelstown in round 4, little or nothing in another draw before the 'Town pulled away for a comfortable win in the replay.

Current League 4 form sees wins recorded over Glenville and Aghada, draw with St Vincents and a loss to Gabriel Rangers. Injuries are upsetting Ballydesmond but they can take encouragement from a win over previously unbeaten Aghada last Sunday with goals netted by Donncha O'Connor, Niall Fleming and Seán Cronin.

Aghabullogue held the measure of Youghal first time out last season, bouncing back from a 13 point loss to the 'Barrs to saunter past Mayfield, but ultimately falter in a replay to Rockchapel.

Some compensation saw a Division 3 league title lifted and promotion, plenty of encouragement here on overcoming senior ranked teams Douglas and Ilen Rovers with narrow defeats to Newmarket and Clyda Rovers.

Early season form indicates Aghabullogue are fancied to begin this campaign on a winning note.

Verdict: Aghabullogue