Denis Hurley ranks the teams left in the Cork SFC and, gazing into his crystal ball, he predicts the final two
The bookmakers may have them joint-third along with Avondhu at 4/1, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that Ballincollig were county champions just two years ago, beating Nemo Rangers in the semi-final and then Carbery Rangers in the final.
While they haven’t shone all through the championship, there is a sense that they are peaking at the right time, having built on their Round 4 win over CIT with a scintillating performance against Castlehaven last week.
With Seán Kiely and Ciarán O’Sullivan provided the power from midfield, they have match-winners in Cian Dorgan and Pa Kelly and the defence is very solid.
2. Carbery Rangers
Their first two outings, against Clyda Rovers and Douglas, saw some wonderful attacking play married with defensive lapses, but things came together in fine fashion in the quarter-final as they beat Valley Rovers by 1-11 to 0-6.
Semi-finals are nothing new for the Rosscarbery side – this is the sixth time in seven seasons that they have made the last four of the championship – but only one of the previous five appearances has resulted in a win, 2014 against Bishopstown.
Second favourites at 7/2, they have a strong squad with a number of options and that could be the difference against Avondhu this Sunday.
3. Nemo Rangers
The reigning champions and 10/11 favourites, ranking them third of four could invite accusations of madness.
Duhallow were awful against them in Round 1, though, and Muskerry in Round 2A were always up against it. Scheduling hampered Carbery in their Round 4 tie, while St Finbarr’s almost pipped Nemo with a second-half surge in the quarter-finals. Ballincollig will represent a serious step up in terms of the test facing them and the events of the 2014 semi-final cannot be discounted.
Nemo don’t normally lose semi-finals, but don’t be surprised if that transpires. That said, Luke Connolly and/or Paul Kerrigan could catch fire and make us look very foolish.
The surprise package of the championship in many respects, the main reason that they are placed fourth is that there is still a question-mark against them when it comes to top-quality opposition.
A strong side with Cork players Tomás Clancy, James Loughrey and Colm O’Neill joined by a cast of good intermediate club players, they have been impressive in beating Ilen Rovers, O’Donovan Rossa, Muskerry, Newcestown and, most recently, Duhallow.
However, they lost to Valley Rovers in Round 2A and, given that Carbery Rangers accounted for Valleys in such a devastating fashion, they get the vote.