FROM heavyweight football derbies to a junior B hurling group of death, the 2023 county championship draws have plenty of red-hot West Cork storylines to keep fans warm during this cold snap.
Even though the championships themselves are a long way off yet, the draws whet the appetite for what’s to come next year, especially in the premier senior and senior A football championships.
In Group A of the Premier SFC, West Cork’s three teams – Castlehaven, Carbery Rangers and Clonakilty – have been drawn to face each other, with Valley Rovers keeping it a geographically tight group. With two to emerge, there will be a lot on the line when these derby days roll around. Castlehaven are the most consistent West Cork team in recent times, Rangers are building while Clonakilty showed in 2021 they can cause a surprise when the stars align. Valleys will be keen to spoil the party, too.
In the Senior A Football Championship, Newcestown, Dohenys and Ilen Rovers have all been drawn together in Group C, with Bishopstown adding a city presence to another West Cork group of death. Again, only two will advance to the knock-out stages so a good start is key, with a derby between Newcestown and Dohenys to open the group. O’Donovan Rossa find themselves in a tricky-looking Group A in the Senior A competition, alongside Knocknagree, Kanturk and Fermoy.
Bandon’s bid to stop the slide, following their relegation from the Senior A ranks, will see them tussle with Rockchapel, Castletownbere and Nemo Rangers in Group A of the Premier IFC ranks. Defeated 2022 finalists Bantry Blues have three Mid Cork teams for company in Group B – Uibh Laoire who they beat in last season’s semi-final, Naomh Abán who just avoided relegation and Macroom. In the Intermediate A Football Championship Adrigole and Gabriel Rangers will meet in the group stage for the second season in a row, with Gabriels winning their latest battle, but it was Adrigole who advanced to the knockout stages. Aghabullogue and Glenville are the other two sides that make up the group.
In 2023 the new Premier Junior Football Championship will be played for the first time, and 2022 Carbery champions St James, set free into the county series, will play Millstreet, Kilmurry and Kinsale. It was Cork JAFC winners Kilmurry who knocked St James out of the 2022 county competition so this is a quick chance to exact some revenge. Urhan are in Group A with St Nicks, Ballydesmond and Cullen, and this new competition is great news for the Beara club who has been their division’s only junior A team for the past few seasons.
In the divisions/colleges section Beara have been drawn to play Avondhu, while Muskerry take on Imokilly, and Duhallow have a bye in the opening round of this competition. Carbery, as holders of the Tadhg Crowley Cup, are waiting in the next stage of that section. Meanwhile, the Carbery hurlers will play Avondhu in their round one senior hurling championship game, while Muskerry face Carrigdhoun.
In the confined junior B county championship there will be more West Cork derbies. Group A contains Muintir Bhaire, Goleen, Deel Rovers and Ballyphehane, while Garnish and Clann na nGael will clash in Group C, which also has Araglen and Kilbrin. St Oliver Plunkett’s will fly the West Cork flag in Group B and they face St Catherine’s, Crosshaven and Castlelyons. Glengarriff are in Group D alongside Belgooly, Doneraile and Shanballymore. The confined junior B hurling championship has plenty to whet the local appetite too, as Group B has St Oliver Plunkett’s, O’Donovan Rossa and Bantry Blues, with Gleann na Laoi in there too. Gabriel Rangers are in Group C with Lough Rovers, Laochra Óg and Doneraile.
PREMIER SFC – Group A: Castlehaven, Carbery Rangers, Clonakilty, Valley Rovers. Group B: Nemo Rangers, Ballincollig, Carrigaline, Éire Óg. Group C: St Finbarr’s, Mallow, Douglas, St Michael’s.
SENIOR A FC – Group A: Knocknagree, O’Donovan Rossa, Kanturk, Fermoy. Group B: Clyda Rovers, Beál Athán Ghaorthaidh, Newmarket, Kiskeam. Group C: Newcestown, Dohenys, Bishopstown, Ilen Rovers.
PREMIER IFC – Group A: Bandon, Rockchapel, Castletownbere, Nemo Rangers. Group B: Bantry Blues, Uibh Laoire, Macroom, Naomh Abán. Group C: Cill na Martra, Aghada, Na Piarsaigh, Kilshannig.
INTERMEDIATE A FC – Group A: St Vincent's, Glanworth, Glanmire, Dromtarriffe. Group B: Aghabullogue, Adrigole, Gabriel Rangers, Glenville. Group C: Mitchelstown, Boherbue, Ballinora, Kildorrery.
PREMIER JUNIOR FC – Group A: St Nicks, Ballydesmond, Urhan, Cullen. Group B: St Finbarr's, Cobh, Buttevant, St Michael's. Group C: Millstreet, Kilmurry, Kinsale, St James.