MATTHEW HURLEY on five talking points from the recent opening weekend of the county football championships
ON THE BACK FOOT: 2021 beaten county finalists Clonakilty got off to a shaky start against Castlehaven in their 2022 opener, losing 0-10 to 1-5. This Group of Death was always going to be a difficult assignment for Haulie O’Neill’s team but they are now already on the back foot. Their next game against fellow West Cork side Newcestown is now crucial. Both need to win. However, beating the Haven 1-3 to 0-3 in the second half can be something Clon can build on.
SURPRISE PACKETS? After their one-point win (0-10 to 1-6) over last year’s semi-finalists Douglas, Valley Rovers look set to cause shockwaves once more. They had seven different scorers in their Premier SFC opening round win, showing that they aren’t reliant on individuals. At the start of the 2021 championship, they beat another city side in Nemo Rangers and reached the quarter-finals. Can they go one better this time around?
POWER RANGERS: Their Premier SFC Group A win over Carrigaline might have been expected, but Carbery Rangers were going into the game having lost five out of their last six championship matches. Their 2-10 to 1-9 victory means they now go into their next group game against Éire Óg with some confidence. Plus the Ross men were more convincing winners than the final scoreline suggests.
DIFFICULT START: Last year’s Premier SFC relegated side Ilen Rovers wanted to get their Senior A campaign off to an ideal start. Instead, they lost 1-13 to 1-12 against Clyda Rovers. It means Ilen have now lost their last seven group games in championship football, having lost all six group games at PSFC level in 2020 and ’21. They need to rediscover that winning feeling, fast.
NO MORE BLUES: Bantry Blues were another West Cork team relegated last year. Unlike Ilen though, Bantry got their PIFC campaign off to a fantastic start by beating Aghada 2-11 to 1-9. They were on a run of seven championship losses in eight games coming into this. An on-form Ruaraí Deane getting 1-2 from play was another positive. Roll on Castletownbere in their next group game.