BY DENIS HURLEY
TWO years ago, Valley Rovers’ first season back at senior football level ended with a 0-13 to 0-8 fourth-round defeat to then-reigning champions Ballincollig.
On Saturday night, the Innishannon side will renew rivalries with the mid-Cork club in round 2A and manager Barry Casey believes that they have developed into a stronger side in the interim.
‘To be fair, I don’t think the preparations for that game were great, for a few reasons,’ he says, ‘but we’ve definitely matured since then. ‘That same year, we won the U21 and there’ll be nine or ten of that team playing this weekend.’
Valleys had a good win over Beara in round 1 and have Kevin Canty back as he missed the game as he was on honeymoon. John Cottrell and Jack Murphy remain out injured, but a league win over Nemo Rangers last week sees them going in in good shape.
‘We’d hope that the outcome would be a lot different than 2015,’ Casey says, ‘but we’re still under no illusions, Ballincollig are probably in the top three teams in the county.
‘We’ll go and give it a rattle and if we don’t win we’ll learn something. I’m confident we can put in a good display.’
While the losers of that clash will have another chance in round three, the situation is starker for Ilen Rovers, who face a must-win tie.
Ilen are in action against St Nicholas in round 2B in Bandon and must plan without Stephen Leonard, Daniel O’Driscoll and Alex Hassett.
Ilen lost after a first-round replay against Carbery and manager Edward Sheehy will be hoping that the display more resembles the opening game.
‘We were just as good as them for 120 minutes but by the end of the second game we were down about seven key guys,’ he says.
‘We had to attack to get something from the game and left ourselves vulnerable at the back then. For a smaller club, you need everyone in order to compete.
‘Nick’s will be tough, they’re seasoned campaigners, and we’ll have to be at our best, it’s knockout football.’