WHO will stop Ballinascarthy’s three-in-a-row bid in 2023? First up are St James and Bandon, as the draw for next season’s RCM Tarmacadam JAHC has been made.
There are 11 teams in junior A hurling in 2023, with Kilbrittain regrading to junior B. This means two groups of four and one group (Roinn 2) of three teams. The top two in each group will qualify for the play-offs.
Ballinascarthy are the reigning champions and will be going for three in-a-row, their fourth in five seasons. Dohenys, Clonakilty, Newcestown and Kilbree will all fancy their chances of taking home the Flyer Nyhan Cup in 2023.
Roinn 1 is the group of death and at least one of the favourites will bite the dust in this Roinn. Dohenys have been the unlucky team in recent seasons, losing to eventual champions, Ballinascarthy, by a point in 2021 and in a penalty shoot-out in the 2022 semi-final. Clonakilty are the 2020 champions while Kilbree last won the title in 2018. St Colum’s may well have a big say in which two qualify from this group and the Clonakilty v Kilbree game looks like being the decisive clash.
Champions Ballinascarthy should qualify from Roinn 2 and one must fancy St James to take the second place ahead of Bandon seconds.
There is a lot of hurling to be done in Roinn 3 before two winners emerge. Newcestown looked good in 2022 until they took on rampant Ballinascarthy in the final, while St Mary’s have been very close in recent seasons but are hit badly by emigration. Randal Óg have been promoted from B with a promising young team, while Diarmuid Ó Mathúna will hope to reverse their hurling slide in recent seasons. This group looks the most open of the three, with a hesitant vote going to Newcestown and Randal Óg.
In the 2023 RCM Tarmacadam JBHC, we have straight groups of four, with the winner of the championship being promoted to junior A the following season. The top two from each Roinn qualify for the semi-finals. If a B club – St Oliver Plunkett’s, Gabriel Rangers, Bantry Blues or O’Donovan Rossa – win the open county B championship, they will also be promoted to junior A.
Relegated St Oliver Plunkett’s will be strong favourites to win Roinn 1 while the second spot would look to rest between a developing Gabriel Rangers, U21 champions, and Kilbree, who contested the B final in 2022. Regraded Kilbrittain should top Roinn 2, with the second spot up for grabs. Bantry withdrew in 2022 but are always potential champions when they turn their minds to it. O’Donovan Rossa have been on the slide in recent seasons but still have a kick in them while Barryroe’s fortunes have been on the up in recent times. Rossas may just squeeze through here.
2023 RCM Tarmacadam Junior A HC: Roinn 1 – Clonakilty, Dohenys, St Colum’s, Kilbree. Roinn 2 – Ballinascarthy, St James, Bandon. Roinn 3 – Newcestown, St Mary’s, Randal Óg, Diarmuid Ó Mathúnas.
2023 RCM Tarmacadam Junior B HC: Roinn 1 – St Oliver Plunkett’s, Kilbree, Ballinascarthy, Gabriel Rangers. Roinn 2 – Kilbrittain, Barryroe, Bantry Blues, O’Donovan Rossa.