REDUCED county football and hurling league structures means there will be little room for error when this year’s competitions begin next month. The Cork Credit Unions Football League Cups are scheduled to start in June followed by the opening rounds of the RedFM Hurling Cups in the same month.
This year’s football league is split into 12 groups of 4 teams and one group of 5 teams. Each club gets a minimum of 3 groups fixtures plus the possibility of an additional league semi-final and final appearances. A similar format applies to the county’s hurling league setup apart from groups 8A and 8B which contain 3 teams in each.
The meeting of arch rivals Castlehaven and O’Donovan Rossa in group 2A of the football league is one of the standout fixtures of this year’s competition. The former is currently building towards next August’s rearranged 2020 Cork PSFC county final with Nemo Rangers. As for Rossa’s, the Skibbereen club will be eager to hit the ground running and build on last season’s Cork SAFC county semi-final appearance. Expect sparks to fly when James McCarthy and Martin Bohane’s sides meet in a group that also contains Valley Rovers and Mallow.
Another West Cork local rivalry will be rekindled when Clonakilty and Carbery Rangers face off in group 1B. New managers will patrol the side-lines for both clubs with Haulie O’Neill back in charge of the Brewery Town and Declan Hayes overseeing Rangers’ 2021 campaign. St Michael’s and Cill na Martra make up an intriguing group 1B quartet from which the Carbery clubs have a decent change of progressing.
A third West Cork football derby involving Newcestown and Ilen Rovers will take place in group 3B which also contains Douglas and Aghabullogue. Ilen avoided relegation from last year’s Cork PSFC during a campaign their upcoming league opponent inflicted a 3-17 to 1-7 championship defeat on them. Carthach Keane scored 2-1 for the winners on that occasion and Newcestown will be anxious to make their mark in this year’s league.
There will be huge interest in the meeting of Adrigole and Castletownbere when the two Beara clubs cross swords in group 7. Adrigole famously got the better of their Beara rivals, 1-14 to 0-11, in the 2012 intermediate football championship. Castletownbere rebounded from that loss however and went all the way to the county final to overcome Éire Óg for the IFC title. Both clubs will be hoping to emerge from a group that also involves Glanmire, Millstreet and Ballydesmond.
Elsewhere, new Dohenys manager Declan O’Dwyer faces a baptism of fire against PSFC county finalists Nemo Rangers. A young Dunmanway team should fancy their chances against Glanworth and Aghada.
Colm Aherne will look to guide Bandon past Naomh Aban, Rockchapel and recently relegated Bishopstown in group 4B. Bantry Blues take on a St Nick’s team they defeated 3-15 to 0-3 to retain their senior A status last September in Dunmanway. St Vincent’s and Kinsale are the Blues’ other league opponents.
Dual senior club Newcestown have been handed the toughest of assignments in group 1A of the 2021 county hurling league. Reigning PSHC county champions Blackrock, last year’s runners-up Glen Rovers and 6-time winners Sarsfields will provide the West Cork club with three quality league matches.
Newcestown reached the penultimate round of last year’s senior A hurling championship only to lose 4-13 to 1-13 to Fr O’Neill’s. The West Cork club’s three upcoming league encounters will act as the best possible preparations for this year’s championship.
Bandon’s hurlers have been drawn to face Youghal, Watergrasshill and Ballincollig in group 4A. The lilywhites exited last season’s SAHC at the quarter-final juncture but possess enough quality to enjoy a productive run in this year’s league.
Argideen Rangers’ league opponents will comprise of St Catherine’s, Dripsey and Na Piarsaigh. The West Cork side are still in Cork IAHC relegation trouble and must complete Meelin and the Glen fixtures as part of a three-team round-robin relegation group.
Cork Credit Unions Football League Cups Draws (involving West Cork and Beara clubs):
1B: Clonakilty, St Michael’s, Cill na Martra and Carbery Rangers.
2A: Castlehaven, Valley Rovers, O’Donovan Rossa and Mallow.
3B: Douglas, Newcestown, Aghabullogue and Ilen Rovers.
4A: Dohenys, Nemo Rangers, Glanworth and Aghada.
4B: Naomh Aban, Rockchapel, Bishopstown and Bandon.
5A: St Vincent’s, Kinsale, Bantry Blues and St Nick’s.
5B: Knocknagree, Dromtarriffe, Mitchelstown and Gabriel Rangers.
7: Glanmire, Castletownbere, Millstreet, Adrigole and Ballydesmond.
RedFM Hurling Cup Draws (involving West Cork clubs):
1A: Sarsfields, Newcestown, Blackrock and Glen Rovers.
4A: Bandon, Youghal, Watergrasshill and Ballincollig.
6A: Éire Óg, Blackrock, Kilbrittain and Aghada.
6B: Argideen Rangers, St Catherine’s, Dripsey and Na Piarsaigh.
8B: Ballymartle, Ballinhassig and Barryroe.