Sport

South East clubs discover their path to junior glory

May 18th, 2023 12:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

Kathleen Keogh, Huntsman Belgooly, and Brian Tobin, Ross Oil, along with the members of the South East Board officers at the draw for the 2023 junior championships.

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BY JJ HURLEY

THE dye has been cast in the Carrigdhoun division as the draws for the 2023 junior A football and hurling championships took place in the Huntsman Bar and Restaurant.

With the Huntsman Bar retained as the sponsor for the football championship, Ross Oil will headline the hurling championship.

The hurling draw will see several old rivals battle it out with Group 1 featuring Ballymartle, Kinsale and Carrigaline, Group 2 containing near neighbours Ballinhassig and Valley Rovers, as well as Courceys, and Group 3 includes Shamrocks, Belgooly and Ballygarvan.

It's likely there will only be the puck of a ball between these sides, but last year's champions, Valley Rovers, must remain as favourites to retain their title. Dual Valley's player Darragh Crowley emphasises his side's determination to retain the title.

'It was great to win it last year and hopefully we will go far this year,’ he said.

Valleys will feature several young players from last year's winning side, including the impressive Charlie O'Sullivan at full back, but Crowley admits losing these young guns to the intermediate ranks will hurt their chances.

Ballinhassig is in a similar situation, with the Junior A side training with their intermediate players and they may lose valuable talent to the higher grade as the championship progresses.

Belgooly, who have retained the services of Sean McGrath, will be dark horses in this year's championship. Last year they fell in the semi-final to Ballymartle, but they have already dispatched their neighbours in the league. With the retirement of the long-serving goalkeeper Ger Quinlan, Ruairi Dwyer has taken up the mantle, bringing his many years of experience to a new role.

Kinsale is another team on the up, now under the management of Sean O'Callaghan, John Martin Nyhan and Con O'Callaghan, a former chairman of the club. While Kinsale's young charges may be a couple of years off the pace, the remaining sides, including Carrigaline, Ballygarvan, Courcey Rovers and Shamrocks, will all have their say in what promises to be an intriguing championship.

The football competition has been reduced to seven teams, with Belgooly and Tracton participating in the B competition and Kinsale elevated to the county ranks. Ballygarvan, who are in a group that features Carrigaline, Shamrocks and Ballymartle, were stunned by a late Kinsale goal in last year's semi-final, but will be installed as favourites. It's a tag Dan O'Mahony of Ballygarvan accepts: ‘We have a good set up, our manager Stephen Maloney and trainer Liam Sheehan have bags of experience, so hopefully this will be our year.'

Of course, Valley Rovers and Carrigaline will have a huge say in that, with Valleys looking to exit the second group that contains Courcey Rovers and Ballinhassig.

2021 county finalists Ballinhassig have seen the departure of their backroom team, led by Cathal Daly, and the incoming selectors will have their work cut out to repeat the success of the impressive former Blues management team.

The last couple of years have seen a lacklustre effort from Courcey Rovers and Ballymartle, but the Riverstick representative at the draw, Ger Coleman, said that the club will hope to build on the recent U21 success in the B competition.

Shamrocks has a long tradition in the football championship, and if the Andrews brothers can get motoring, the Pad Joe Cronin Trophy might find itself in Shanbally.

The footballers will make their first appearance on the week ending July 29th, and the hurlers enter the fray on the week ending August 5th

The Huntsman Bar & Restaurant Junior A Football Championship – Group 1: Ballygarvan, Ballymartle, Shamrocks, Carrigaline; Group 2: Ballinhassig, Valley Rovers, Courcey Rovers.

Ross Oil Junior A Hurling Championship – Group 1: Ballymartle, Kinsale, Carrigaline; Group 2: Courcey Rovers, Valley Rovers, Ballinhassig; Group 3: Shamrocks, Belgooly, Ballygarvan.

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