Castleisland Mart Club Championships take centre stage this week
The road to Croke Park starts this weekend with the commencement of the Castleisland Mart Club Championships. Any club worth its salt will want to emulate the fantastic achievements of the likes of Ardfert and Brosna last season and given the very good record of Kerry clubs in the All Ireland series, the ultimate success is very achievable for the Kerry representatives. But first of course, they have to negotiate the minefield that is the Kerry club championships.
Given the knock-on effects of the re-structuring of the county senior football championship, the club championships will take on added significance this year. While the Draw for Round 1 of the Senior Club has already been made, the draw for the Intermediate, Junior and Novice Championships will be made on Sunday evening next following the completion of the Round 1 games and it is the intention of the CCC to fix all Round 2 games for the following weekend, April 25th/26th.
The two Senior Club finalists will be exempt from the relegation process to reduce the number of teams in the Senior Football Championship and that in itself should make for a very competitive competition among the elite clubs. There are three Round 1 and two Round 2 games down for decision this weekend with holders Dr Crokes up against St Michaels-Foilmore.
Competition in the Intermediate Championship should be no less competitive given that four of the teams will be relegated to the Junior championship next year. Add in the fact that half of the clubs have tasted Munster or All Ireland glory at club level and you will see why the road to Croker is such a minefield! Incidentally, the winners of this year’s competition will not be promoted to senior status. Newly crowned Junior champions Brosna have An Ghaeltacht as visitors while Glenflesk have a tough encounter in store against high scoring Desmonds. Former All Ireland Finalists, Spa, have Annascaul as visitors.
The Junior and Novice Championships are set to be renamed Premier Junior and Junior next year but that is hardly going to be of concern to any participating in this year’s championships next weekend.
Glenbeigh-Glencar have been many peoples favourites to win the Junior Championship for the last few years, but again it goes to show the competitive nature of the competition that a team who clinched promotion to Division 1 of the League last season cannot win this elusive title. The Mid Kerry side face a tough away trip to Tarbert this weekend while last year’s beaten finalists, Dromid Pearses have home advantage against Firies. Former All Ireland winners, Castlegregory are home to Beaufort.
Ballydonoghue will be among the favourites to lift the Novice Cup but they face a tough away trip to Fossa while there is an interesting local derby in Renard where the locals take on neighbours Valentia. St Senans and Cromane is another game that will arouse interest in a championship where there are plenty of live contenders for the title.
All in all, there is certainly a hectic weekend of club championship action in store with plenty talking points – and the odd surprise – guaranteed.