OVER the past number of weeks we have been keeping a close eye on the club championship fare across the province.
It was left to Cork to complete the set of county finals and what the Rockies and the Glen served up was as good if not better than we had seen elsewhere.
In fact, one would go as far as to say that it was the best of the lot and it showed up the county in a very positive light.
The Waterford and Limerick finals involving Ballygunner and Passage and in Limerick the collision of Na Piarsaigh and Doon were very lopsided affairs, done and dusted long before their conclusion.
For sheer late, late drama the Tipperary final involving Kildangan and Loughmore-Castleiney could not have been better with Kildangan snatching victory right at the death.
Sixmilebridge were too strong for O’Callaghan’s Mills in Clare and the issue was never really in doubt.
The Rockies and the Glen had to contend with a vicious wind at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, such was its ferocity at times that it could have ruined the game.
The opening half didn’t light any bushfires and at half-time the perception might have been that the Rockies half-time lead of just five points might not have been enough.
After all in the Senior A county final, Fr O’Neill’s had a one time lead of nine points wiped out and subsequently lost by one to Charleville in another game that was a splendid advertisement for Cork club hurling.
The Rockies did lose their half-time advantage when Adam O’Donovan pointed the Glen in front in the 58th minute and when Patrick Horgan pointed again in the third minute of injury time.
But on each occasion in those frenetic moments, they had the character to respond and bring the game into 20 added minutes.
The final was in keeping with what has to be said was an outstanding Cork championship, the new group format is surely here to stay.
The season ran like clockwork and the county board must be complimented for its efficiency in running off what was a very condensed campaign.
Across the five grades, from senior down to the lower intermediate, it was very competitive, some games were outstanding and the great pity was that so few got in to see them.
The fare last Sunday in both games at headquarters was compelling, the standard was very high and it was just a pity that there had to be a loser.
There will be no Munster club championship in any grade this year and that’s a pity because it would have been very interesting to see how the Rockies would have fared against the best from the rest.
But, I suppose, we should be grateful for small mercies in getting our own championships completed, we have three of the hurling campaigns well and truly sorted out and the two that remain carry great potential too, Éire Óg against Aghabullogue in the IAHC and the East Cork derby featuring Russell Rovers and Castlemartyr in the LIHC.
Back to the Rockies triumph and as Anthony Daly pointed out in the Irish Examiner on Monday, this title has to rank up there among their best.
They had a tough group stage to contend with, Newtownshandrum the side that dumped them out of the championship last season, Erin’s Own, never an easy opponent and a potentially dangerous all city tie with Bishopstown.
On came Douglas in the last eight, a Douglas team that at last seemed to be in a very good place after eliminating Midleton.
Again the Rockies had the strength and the depth to see off that challenge before they became involved in an epic with UCC.
May believed afterwards that UCC were slightly the better side and maybe they were but the Rockies had that new found character and inner belief to get them over the line.
What has been most impressive about them this year has been their phenomenal workrate and refusal to panic when they found themselves in difficult situations as they were against UCC and the Glen.
But perhaps their greatest strength was the depth of their resources, having the calibre of the likes of Tadhg Deasy, John Cashman, Robbie Cotter and Alan O’Callaghan to call on in times of need.
An inter-county team might have that depth on their bench but for a club side, it’s much more difficult.
The Rockies had the bench, they had the resolve and they had the want in them to end a lengthy famine in Church Road.
For that they deserve credit. The monkey is off their back now, it’s their time again.