Bantry v Newcestown
(Friday, March 6th, Dunmanway, 8pm)
Bantry Blues and Newcestown kick off the South West U21 A football championship this Friday night, and it will be an intriguing clash between two teams that fell at the quarter-final stage last season.
The Bantry boys are expected to make a bold bid for the main prize this season, spearheaded by Jimmy O’Leary, Jack McCarthy, Shane Delaney and Sean O’Leary, and have turned in a couple of impressive performances in their four Glenville Cup games.
Newcestown can’t be discounted, not when you consider that Micheál McSweeney and Luke Meade are in their ranks, and when you add in the famed Newcestown spirit. They have lost Jack Meade and Mark Courtney from last year but in come Colm Dineen and James Kelleher.
Preparing for this tournament since December Newcestown are keen to get over the recent first-round blues this Friday, but will have to do so without Trevor Horgan and Cian Healy, who are injury doubts. A tentative nod to Bantry.
Bandon v Castlehaven
(Saturday, March 7th, Clonakilty, 4pm)
When these sides met last year in the opening round there was a considerable gulf between them, 2-13 to 1-6, and on the basis that Castlehaven have retained most of that team then John Cleary’s side is shaping up as the favourites for Saturday’s tie in Clonakilty.
The Haven U21s have been in impressive form this year, recently winning the Glenville Cup final against Macroom, and this without Michael Hurley who is rated as a ‘40/60’ chance of being fit for the quarter-final against Bandon, as he is recovering from a hamstring injury.
While Bandon have lost their main man of the last few years, Mark Sugrue, Castlehaven will be without the central trio of Eoghan Dennehy, Bobby Nolan and Patrick O’Brien (all overage) from last year’s side.
Still, the Haven have a young team and are a coming team, and Conor Cahalane, Conor Nolan, Darragh Cahalane, Patrick Bohane and the rest are ready to step up to the plate. Haven get the nod here, and will await the winners of the Dohenys v Ilen quarter-final on the following weekend.
Carbery Rangers v Clonakilty
(Saturday, March 7th, Castlehaven, 7.30pm)
There’s little to suggest that the recent meetings of these sides over the past few seasons won’t follow a similar pattern on Saturday evening, meaning a Clonakilty win is the likely outcome.
But the reigning champions are missing some big names this weekend, with Jack O’Mahony set to miss out through a hamstring injury while both Colm Sheehy and Jack Cowhig are suspended, a result of the Ballincollig county game last year. Gone also are Gearoid Barry, Jonathan Leahy, Aidan Collins, Jack Barrett and Kevin Cormican, which means seven of last year’s starting 15 from the SW U21 A final win against Castlehaven won’t be lining out on Saturday.
That gives Ross, who will look to captain Thomas O’Rourke for leadership and drive, a chance, and in a local derby anything is possible. But that said, there is still enough talent in the Clon ranks to expect them to advance to the semi-finals.