SUNDAY: Cork County SHC final: Glen Rovers v Blackrock, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 4pm. Live on TG4
THE two best sides in this year’s Cork County Premier SHC will contest Sunday’s final showdown and it’s very much a case of the clock being turned back to the days of the city teams dominating the championship landscape.
The Glen are contesting their fifth final since 2014, a remarkable level of consistency by any standards while the Rockies are back in again after losing in 2017 to Imokilly.
They are, of course, seeking to end an 18-year famine in Church Road.
Both sides have done nearly everything that has been asked of them along the journey to this final destination, both were unbeaten at the group stage and both had to answer difficult questions in their respective semi-finals.
But both, the Rockies against UCC and the Glen against Erin’s Own, had the correct answers when push came to shove and both exhibited plenty of resilience and character to stay the course in those games.
This Rockies team has been in the construction process for a while now and while it is one without the marquee names that others might possess, it is a very well-balanced unit.
The Glen are definitely more experienced and they possess the knowledge of winning titles in 2015 and 2016.
They were close enough too last season against Imokilly and in all sectors there are players who know how to get out of tight situations.
Of course, in Patrick Horgan they possess one of the country’s top forwards and one who can swing a game almost on his own.
How the Rockies counteract his threat will be a key question to be answered.
Defensively, they are very experienced with Stephen McDonnell, Brian Moylan and Rob Downey key figures.
Donal Cronin remains one of the club’s real heroes down the years, his often unseen work and industry a key factor around the middle.
Dean Brosnan brings a strong physical presence to the half-forward line while Simon Kennefick and Conor Dorris can get big scores if they get on the ball.
Back in goal, Cathal Hickey is one of the best in the business but the Rockies too have a very good one in Gavin Connolly.
UCC asked a huge amount from this Rockies team and could, quite easily, have beaten them.
After all, they scored 34 points and still lost. That was due in the main to the ability of the Rockies to be able to respond to the dangerous situations they found themselves in.
Michael O’Halloran had a quiet game last weekend after starring against Douglas and he’ll be a key player again here one believes.
Niall Cashman was in top form against UCC and in this Rockies defensive set-up you have players like Gary Norberg, James Ryan and Stephen Murphy who just get on with the job.
John O’Sullivan excelled in attack last weekend while Shane O’Keeffe’s physical presence will trouble any defence.
Then you had Tadhg Deasy coming in from the bench to score five points against the students and being very close to being man of the match.
Do you leave him on the bench next Sunday? A nice headache for the management team.
Young gun Robbie Cotter is another with fine potential when introduced and, overall, there is a fine, healthy balance to the side In John Cashman and Alan O’Callaghan, the Rockies have plenty of other alternative choices too.
The Glen brought in Paddy Cunningham last weekend and his vast experience in the second half against Erin’s Own was very evident.
There is no doubt that you could put up the strongest of cases for both sides here and the Rockies need might be that bit greater because of the fact that they are so long without a title.
But the Glen have been there and done that twice in very recent times and that know how to win county titles has to be in their favour.
It really has the potential to be a fascinating final and one thing we do know is that neither side will give an inch until all hope is finally extinguished. Getting back as top dogs again is a huge motivating factor for the Rockies and they have been very impressive at times this season.
It really is impossible to try and nail this one down and this is not taking the easy way out in suggesting that it really is a spin of a coin. Both sides will believe they were not at their best last weekend but they were still able to use the chisel to finish the job.
It really will come down to whoever has the greater consistency over the hour. Maybe the Glen.