There is huge novelty to the first of tomorrow’s Cork semi-finals with Bishopstown and Ballymartle both contesting this stage for the first time in their club’s history. That ensures there will be first-time finalists on Leeside this year and is a reflection of the excellent strides made by both clubs since graduating from the premier intermediate ranks with Bishopstown triumphing in 2006 and Ballymartle winning in 2010.
Interestingly both clubs were steered to those victories by former Kerry senior hurling manager Eddie Murphy. Bishopstown possess Cork seniors in Shane O’Neill and Patrick Cronin but also have vital figures in Cork senior football net minder Ken O’Halloran and former county U21 Thomas Murray. Ballymartle’s challenge will be backboned by Darren McCarthy – sub goalkeeper with the Cork seniors this summer – Brian Corry and Ruairi Dwyer.
The second semi-final tomorrow is viewed by many as the game which will produce the eventual champions with Sarsfields, winners in 2008 and 2010, facing the third-level outfit Cork IT who lost last year’s final. Sarsfields team is packed with inter-county players like Cork trio Cian McCarthy, Conor O’Sullivan and Daniel Kearney, and Wexford duo Eanna Martin and Eoin Quigley. While Cork IT field plenty stars as well like Aidan Walsh, Lorcan McLoughlin, Tommy Quaid and Ciaran Sheehan.
Tomorrow: Bishopstown v Ballymartle, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 3pm; Sarsfields v Cork IT, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 5pm.
The last four stage has been reached in Limerick as well with the meeting of reigning champions Na Piarsaigh and 2010 title winners Kilmallock tomorrow eagerly awaited. There is unlikely to be much separating the two teams coached by former Clare selectors Sean Stack (Na Piarsaigh) and Tony Considine (Kilmallock). And there is sparkling inter-county talents on view with Na Piarsaigh fielding Shane Dowling, David Breen and Kevin Dowling while Kilmallock’s challenge will be spearheaded by Graeme Mulcahy, Gavin O’Mahony and Paudie O’Brien.
The curtain-raiser tomorrow sees Adare, three-in-a-row winners between 2007 and 2009, meet Garryspillane, who were champions in 2005. Adare, managed by former Clare senior boss Ger O’Loughlin, are without the suspended Declan Hannon but can call on Stephen Lavin and Conor Fitzgerald. Garryspillane will be powered by Donie Ryan and James Ryan.
Tomorrow: Adare v Garryspillane, Gaelic Grounds, 2pm; Na Piarsaigh v Kilmallock, Gaelic Grounds, 3.45pm.
The full line-up of the quarter-finals will be known after this weekend’s fourth round games. The action commences this afternoon with Éire Óg Annacarty, spearheaded by Conor O’Brien, meeting a Borrisoleigh team fielding Brendan Maher as North champions Portroe, coached by former Tipp boss Liam Sheedy, awaiting the winners. The second game today sees last year’s champions Drom-Inch, who will field James Woodlock and Seamus Callanan but must battle without injury victim David Collins, facing Carrick Swans. The winners here meet West champions Clonoulty-Rossmore in the last eight.
Tomorrow in Nenagh, there will be a local derby between Toomevara, who can call on Benny Dunne and Mark McCarthy, facing a Kildangan side anchored by Darragh Egan and Joe Gallagher. The winners here meet Mid winners Thurles Sarsields. The last fourth round game sees Loughmore-Castleiney – who will look to Noel and Liam McGrath – face Roscrea with South champions Mullinahone awaiting the winners.
Today: Éire Óg Annacarty v Borrisoleigh, Leahy Park, Cashel, 2pm; Drom-Inch v Carrick Swans, Leahy Park, Cashel, 3.30pm
Tomorrow: Toomevara v Kildangan, McDonagh Park, Nenagh, 2pm; Loughmore-Castleiney v Roscrea, McDonagh Park, Nenagh, 3.30pm.
Fourmilewater booked their spot in the last four in Waterford last week with a victory over Abbeyside and the remaining three spots are up for grabs this weekend. This afternoon Dungarvan, with Jamie Nagle their key operator, face a Tallow team that will look to Paul O’Brien and Aidan Kearney for inspiration. Then De La Salle with strong figures in their line-up like John Mullane and Stephen Daniels should be able to overcome Lismore.
The remaining quarter-final takes place tomorrow between Ballygunner and Mount Sion, the traditional kingpins who have won 16 of the last 20 titles between them. Yet reigning champions Ballygunner, with the likes of Shane O’Sullivan, Pauric Mahony, Philip Mahony and Wayne Hutchinson in their side should prevail against a Mount Sion team who can call on Martin O’Neill.
Today: Dungarvan v Tallow, Fraher Field, Dungarvan, 4pm; De La Salle v Lismore, Fraher Field, Dungarvan, 5.30pm.
Tomorrow: Ballygunner v Mount Sion, Walsh Park, 3pm.