BLARNEY’S victory in the Cork County PIHC final against Castlelyons was another illustration of why it’s so difficult to defeat a team twice in the one campaign.
Blarney were included in the same group as Castlelyons were and came out on the wrong side of that initial meeting a few months back.
There was no argument about the result, Castlelyons were the better side on the day but there was that feeling that if the sides met up again in the knockout stages the outcome could just as easily be different.
Well, it wasn’t until the final that their paths crossed again, Castlelyons topping their group and going straight through to the semi-final where they proved too strong for Courcey Rovers.
Blarney bounced back from their earlier loss to Castlelyons to score an emphatic victory over Carrigaline in their semi-final thus setting up their second game with the East Cork team.
And what happens? This time the result is reversed and Blarney elevate themselves to Senior A status next season.
It happens, a team that loses the first day learns from that loss and a good management team is able to turn some of the negatives into positives and turn the tables.
Last Saturday night’s final was a fine game, in keeping with what had been a great championship.
The Premier Intermediate championship has long been a very level playing field, one that is capable of having a team that might not be one of the more fancied ones at the outset coming through to take the big prize.
In fact, you could have six or seven teams, maybe more all on a very even keel and believing that they could triumph.
Blarney deserve great credit, they had lost their senior status 10 years ago in a relegation play-off with Blackrock and were unlucky to do so.
It’s never easy to regain the status that you have lost and it has taken a while for Blarney to get back up.
Hard work, proper structures and a team containing a fine blend of youth and experience all combined to get them where they are again and few could argue with their right to be called a senior hurling club again.
They had the experience of great servants like Darragh McSweeney, Joe Jordan and Paul O’Leary to call on and that mixed with the youthful exuberance of Shane Barrett, Padraig Power and Declan Hanlon put them in the ideal position to challenge.
And, of course, they had one of the brightest stars in Cork hurling in Mark Coleman. What a wonderful campaign he had and how for one still so young led by example.
Some of his scores were a joy to behold and when you have a player of that calibre playing at the top end of his game, you are in with a big shout. On big days, big-name players have to perform, Coleman certainly did that.
They had to call on their strong reserves of character too in their collision with Ballincollig in a Mid Cork derby game.
At various times in that game, they trailed by a considerable margin. They were down by nine points at one stage and were still in dire trouble as the clock started to wind down.
But they never lost sight of their objective and in a frenetic finish they came out on top.
Winning a game like that is worth a huge amount, it galvanises a team all the more and gives it the belief that anything is possible.
They were up against a Carrigaline side in the semi-final that had been very impressive en-route and fancied by some to go all the way.
But on the day it was all Blarney, their game with Ballincollig really standing them in good stead.
Getting back up to senior status will do wonders for the club, all the more so the younger generation, those starting off their careers at Street League level.
Brian Hurley and the management team deserve huge credit too for their work and diligence in what was a tough campaign.
In this grade of hurling, there are no easy games, not one that you could say that this team will have it easy against the other.
In many ways, it’s the best grade because of how even the playing field is and every team is capable of defeating the other.
Courcey Rovers were in dire straits after two group game losses but bounced back to reach the semi-final and that was a great effort from them. But it was Blarney’s year, when the big questions were asked they came up with all the right answers.
They are worthy Cork County PIHC winners.