Strong start for St Finbarr's and Nemo Rangers as Cork senior football action returns

St Finbarr’s and Nemo Rangers both claimed victories in their championship openers tonight.

JUST SHY OF 20 weeks later, the doors of Pairc Uí Rinn were opened again and competitive action returned.

Cork’s All-Ireland camogie winners faced off against Kilkenny in early March before the countrywide stadium shut down. 

Over four months on senior football club action marked the comeback on Leeside, the 2018 champions handing off the 2014 kingpins with St Finbarr’s good value for their 1-13 to 0-10 success against Ballincollig.

Cork Premier SFC


  • Group 1: St Finbarr’s 1-13 Ballincollig 0-10
  • Group 3: Nemo Rangers 3-8 Valley Rovers 1-9

It’s seven days since the competitive GAA club fare resurfaced, five counties got the ball rolling with their senior exchanges last weekend, but the next few days is when the schedule intensifies with a packed programme of fixtures around the country.

Cork are ushering in a new group stage format this year. The sense of change with a late July start magnified further by a different structure for club outfits to get accustomed to.

First night out and it was a positive outcome for St Finbarr’s by a six-point margin, just as it was elsewhere for the reigning title holders Nemo Rangers as they picked off three goals in Cloughduv to fashion a five-point victory over Valley Rovers.

The outfits with tradition and recent records of strength posted the wins but they arrived in vastly changed circumstances. Low crowds and Cork football are not historically incompatible issues yet here the attendance was enforced with the surreal sights of senior championship ties observed by few onlookers. Water breaks and locked dressing rooms added to the odd experience along with the uncertainty of how fitness levels would hold up and the sharpness of the football skills on show.

Yet in Pairc Uí Rinn the play produced was of the decent and bright variety in the first half. It was 1-8 to 0-9 in favour of St Finbarr’s at the interval before the scoring rate dried up notably thereafter with Ballincollig only managing to muster a single point in the second half.

Cian Dorgan, a Munster U21 final match-winner a few years ago, hit 0-6 but St Finbarr’s had two forwards on song in the shape of Steven Sherlock early on and Cillian Myers-Murray in the latter stages. They knocked over 0-4 apiece and Eoghan McGreevey showed the opportunism to bundle home a crucial first-half goal.

The Pairc Uí Rinn pitch was populated by players with present and past Cork senior experience – Ian Maguire, Cian Kiely and Patrick Kelly part of that bracket. Current Cork coach Cian O’Neill was amongst those in the stand, a nod to a late summer schedule where assessing club form becomes of greater importance for county matters that loom in the winter.

He will have watched the influence of the Rebel captain grow as the game unfolded, Maguire a towering presence as St Finbarr’s grip tightened on proceedings. The left-foot point he smashed over late on after covering huge ground to offer support in attack summed up the value of his contribution. Moments later Colm Barrett, one of those that picked up an All-Ireland U20 medal for his efforts with Cork in 2019, put the seal on the work of the winners with the last scoring act.

For their part Nemo Rangers saw their goal tally match that of their points in the opening period, 2-2, before they increased their advantage to have five to spare at the final whistle.

They had already banked the experience of championship fare in 2020, bowing out of the All-Ireland race against the heavyweight presence of Corofin back in January on a Saturday afternoon in Ennis. Provincial and national club campaigns have now been wiped from the agenda, a local target is the only one teams can train their sight on.

It was Nemo’s standout names that chipped in with crucial scores, Luke Connolly helping himself to a goal in each half while Paul Kerrigan and Barry O’Driscoll chalked up the points in the final quarter to close out the success.

The top tier action in the Premier Senior grade continues over the weekend in Cork. the established city forces having pointed the way on the opening night.

Scorers for St Finbarr’s: Cillian Myers-Murray 0-4, Steven Sherlock 0-4 (0-3f), Eoghan McGreevy 1-1, Ian Maguire, Brian Hayes, Colm Keane, Colm Barrett 0-1 each.

Scorers for Ballincollig: Cian Dorgan 0-6 (0-5f), Darren Murphy 0-2, Luke Fahy, Cian Kiely (0-1f) 0-1 each.

St Finbarr’s

1. Patrick O’Neill

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2. Sam Ryan
3. Jamie Burns
4. Glen O’Connor

23. Colm Scully
6. Olan Murphy
7. Alan O’Connor

8. Ian Maguire
9. Colm Keane

10. Colm Barrett
11. Steven Sherlock
12. Cian Walsh

13. Cillian Myers-Murray
14. Brian Hayes
15. Eoghan McGreevy


Alan McCarthy for Scully (b-s 13-20)
Olan Murphy (sin-bin 15)
Denis O’Brien for Murphy (45)
Michael Shields for Keane (50)
Colin Lyons for Scully (53)


1. Jack Gibbons

2. Shane Murphy
3. Liam Jennings
4. Gearoid O’Donoghue

5. Kevin Browne
6. Noel Galvin
7. Cian Kiely

8. Peter O’Neill
9. JP Murphy

10. Sean Kiely
11. Luke Fahy
12. Evan Cooke

13. Cian Dorgan
14. Patrick Kelly
15. Darren Murphy


Ciaran O’Sullivan for O’Neill (38)
Dara Dorgan for Cooke (43)

Referee: James Birmingham (Bride Rovers)

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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