*Cooraclare are keeping tight-lipped on the possibility of Sean O’Donoghue returning from the US for their weekend clash with Kilmurry Ibrickane. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
It’s a massive weekend in the race for the various adult football championships as clubs chase advancement to the knock out stage at senior, intermediate and junior levels.
By Sunday evening most of the quarter finalists should be known but there will still be some places up for grabs two weeks later in the senior competition when the final series of games in the five team group will take place along with the play off between the third placed teams in groups 2 and 3.
Champions Kilmurry Ibrickane are through but the remaining results will determine what position they will fill in the group. They face pointless Cooraclare this Sunday at Doonbeg and this is a tie that Cooraclare must win if they are to have any chance of getting to the play offs. As it stands, they are sitting at the bottom of the group and are headed for a relegation play-off.
It remains to be seen if the Milesians will have Sean O’Donoghue back from the U.S. for this Sunday. He returned home for their opening tie and did well against Cratloe but it wasn’t enough to get them a point. He returned to Chicago after that game and the club have kept tight-lipped on whether he will feature this weekend. The Bricks appear to be getting stronger with each outing and will wear the favourites tag on Sunday when victory will see them top the group.
In the other Group 1 game, neighbours St Josephs Miltown and Ennistymon meet at Cusack Park. They are both on two points from two outings, Miltown with two draws and Ennistymon with a win over Cooraclare after losing their opening tie. Defeat for either could leave them with a bit to do in their final outing.
Miltown will be keeping their fingers crossed that Gordon Kelly will have recovered from the hamstring injury which has kept him out of action in recent weeks. He is a key figure in their line up. The popular view is that Miltown’s experience will see them overcome a youthful Ennistymon outfit.
St. Breckans hold the upperhand in Group 2 with two wins from two outings and they will be fancied to pick up another brace of points when they play Kilmihil on Sunday in Miltown. After a good win over Kilrush in the opening round, Kilmihil disappointed hugely in the second when they suffered a huge defeat. They will be determined to show that they are better that their performance last day out suggested but it will be a surprise if the Lisdoonvarna outfit aren’t ahead at the final whistle and safely into the quarter finals.
St. Josephs Doora/Barefield know that victory over Kilrush at Cusack Park will see them into the quarter finals in their first season back in senior ranks and they will carry the favourites tag. If both favourites win in this group it will leave Kilrush in the relegation play off with Kilmihil in a play off for a quarter final place.
Group 3 is probably the most interesting of the lot with all four teams in the hunt. They each have a win to their credit and there is much to play for this week. Éire Óg will be hoping to bounce back to winning ways following their surprise loss Clondegad when they take on Doonbeg at Kilmihil.
It was a similar situation in 2019 when the town side carried the favourites tag into their meeting but Doonbeg upset the form book then and came out on top.
There are injury concerns for both squads. Joe Blake missed Doonbeg’s last outing when Michael Tubridy had to retire due to injury.
Ikem Ugwueru has been replaced in both of Éire Óg’s games due to injury and it remains to be seen if he will be able to play this week. Team captain Gavin Cooney has a hand injury which ruled him out of last week’s hurling game while Aaron Fitzgerald and Liam Corry have had injury issues in recent weeks but both did well for the hurlers last week. On paper Eire Og look stronger but Doonbeg are never easily beaten at championship time
The other game in this group will see Clondegad take on Lissycasey and this all parish affair is expected to be closely contested. Both lost their opening round ties before showing good improvement which led to victories last day out.
Clondegad will be keeping their fingers crossed that Cillian Brennan will have recovered from the injury which kept him out of the Ballyea hurlers victory last week while speculation continues as to whether or not star hurler Tony Kelly will turnout for the footballers. He has concentrated on hurling since 2019 but there is no doubt but that he would be a huge asset to Clondegad if available.
These sides last met in the championship in 2-18 when a replay and extra time was required before Clondegad got through by the minimum margin. Depending on the results this week, anyone of the four could end up facing into a relegation battle so, clearly, there is much to play for.
It’s a similar position in the race for the intermediate title. Kildysart are through from their group with the second qualification spot resting between North Clare neighbours Kilfenora and Michael Cusacks.
Corofin, last year’s beaten finalists lead their group with the other three, Wolfe Tones, Coolmeen and Naomh Eoin still in the race. Pointless Naomh Eoin must beat Coolmeen this week to keep their hopes of progression alive.
All four are very much in contention in Group 3 where Shannon Gaels face Banner, both on two points while top of the table O’Currys face Éire Óg who must win to stay in the race.