WITH 2022 Bandon Co-op JAFC winners St James promoted to the new county premier junior football championship, the Mick McCarthy Cup is up for grabs in 2023.
Most supporters will look to Tadhg MacCarthaigh, Ballinascarthy and last year’s beaten finalists, Argideen Rangers, as potential champions, with Kilmacabea not being written off either.
Relegation will also feature from junior A to junior B in 2023 and this will definitely add a bite to the championship.
The Carbery championships are now run on a group system, three or four teams in each group, with the seedings being decided from the championships in 2022. The top two from each group qualify for the knockout stages.
In Carbery JAFC Roinn 1, following the championship draw, 2021 champions Tadhg MacCarthaigh should come through but the second spot is wide open, with many keeping an eye on a developing Randal Óg, who won their group in 2022, their first season in junior A. Castlehaven are always good battlers in the championship, while Diarmuid Ó Mathúnas are reigning county junior B champions. This will be a tough group to come out of.
In Roinn 2, Ballinascarthy, the hurling champions, and a consistent Carbery Rangers will be favoured to emerge from the group but Kilbrittain are always capable of a surprise, as are Newcestown.
Roinn 3 is going to produce fireworks with a developing Argideen Rangers expected to build on last season’s final spot, while Kilmacabea have the experience and Damien Gore to call on and can’t be written off yet. Kilmeen were promoted as Carbery junior B champions and will be anxious to prove themselves as a genuine junior A side.
St Mary’s, unlucky not to win the title in recent times, and Barryroe, with a point to prove from 2022 and with Ryan O’Donovan in their ranks, will be favoured in Roinn 4 but Mary’s could be badly hit by emigration in 2023, and Clon and Colum’s are both capable of surprises.
The winners of the 2023 Carbery junior B championship will be promoted to junior A the following season. If one of the B clubs – St Oliver Plunkett’s, Muintir Bháire, Goleen or Clann na nGael – wins the open county junior B title, they, too, will be promoted to junior A. There is no relegation in junior B. The top two in each Roinn will qualify for the play-off stages.
Plunkett’s will be favoured to win Roinn 1 with both Goleen and Ilen Rovers confident of taking second spot. Roinn 2 should see a great tussle between relegated Muintir Bháire and Clann na nGael, hoping to build on their U21 success from 2022. Both would seem too strong for Bantry Blues and should qualify for the play-offs. In Roinn 3, Dohenys were beaten finalists in 2022 and won the junior C/D championship so will be fancied to top the group and second place should go to experienced O’Donovan Rossa against St James, making their debut in the championship.
2023 Bandon Co-op Junior A FC: Roinn 1 – Tadhg MacCarthaigh, Randal Óg, Diarmuid Ó Mathunas, Castlehaven. Roinn 2 – Ballinascarthy, Carbery Rangers, Kilbrittain, Newcestown. Roinn 3 – Argideen Rangers, Kilmacabea, Kilmeen, Bandon. Roinn 4 – St Mary’s, Barryroe, Clonakilty, St Colum’s.
2023 Bandon Co-op Junior B FC: Roinn 1 – St Oliver Plunkett’s, Goleen, Ilen Rovers. Roinn 2 – Muintir Bhaire, Clann na nGael, Bantry Blues. Roinn 3 – Dohenys, O’Donovan Rossa, St James.