NEW O’Donovan Rossa senior football manager Gene O’Donovan expects a great atmosphere when his Skibbereen side clashes with local rivals Ilen Rovers in the 2022 Cork Senior A Football Championship – but he insists they will take it one game at a time.
The pairing of Rossas and Ilen together in Group A of the 2022 Cork SAFC is one of the draws of the round as two local teams will clash in a derby, and both are looking to get back to winning ways.
Skibb endured a difficult 2021 campaign when they didn’t get out of their group while Ilen were relegated from the Premier Senior grade, so both sides will see this as the season to get back on track. They are joined in Group A by Clyda Rovers and Newmarket, with the latter first up for O’Donovan Rossa, while Ilen will hope to hit the ground running against Clyda.
‘The group is refreshing as we are looking for a fresh start but with the same group of players,’ Skibb boss O’Donovan says.
‘We won't get a fresher start than this because we are not playing any team we met in last year’s championship. Every group at this grade will throw up surprises. There are no certainties.
‘On the Ilen Rovers game, there is a great respect between the clubs and players and I feel it could create a great atmosphere in this part of West Cork. We have a policy where we will be taking one match at a time and if we are gullible enough to be distracted by Ilen Rovers before we play Newmarket then we are on the wrong track. Newmarket are at this level on merit and will demand to be respected. Clyda Rovers are also a club with a reputation of causing upsets so again they deserve everyone's respect.’
There is a familiarity to Group B of this year’s Senior A Football Championship as 2021 semi-finalists Dohenys have again been drawn in the same group as Béal Áthan Ghaorthaidh and Bandon, while Kiskeam join the trio this season. Dohenys lost their opener to Béal Áthan Ghaorthaidh last season before bouncing back to emerge from the group alongside the Mid Cork men, but both bowed out at the semi-final stage. Again, Béal Áthan and Dohenys will meet in their opening group game. Bandon, meanwhile, didn’t advance from the group last season so manager Colm Aherne will be hoping for an improved campaign.
Two teams will progress from each group of four to the play-off stages. The two top group winners will qualify for the semi-finals and the remaining group winner and the three second-placed teams qualify for the quarter-finals.
2022 Cork Senior A FC: Group A – Ilen Rovers, Clyda Rovers, Newmarket, O’Donovan Rossa. Group B – Béal Áthan Ghaorthaidh, Dohenys, Bandon, Kiskeam. Group C – St Michael’s, Knocknagree, Bishopstown, Fermoy.