Paudie Palmer on Cork club hurling this season: Courcey Rovers stunned us all

Paudie Palmer on Cork club hurling this season: Courcey Rovers stunned us all

William Leahy, Aghada tries to block Brendan Ryan, Courcey Rovers, in their remarkable victory in last weekend's PIHC. Picture: Larry Cummins

WHAT a weekend and another serious endorsement for the championship structure that is now in place in this county.

Of course, you can’t keep everybody happy and during a few post-match interviews, we were treated to the number that has topped the charts in this neck of the woods for quite a while — 'the dual clubs are being screwed'.

The problem is time and unless the segment of the calendar that is allocated to club activity is increased, the problem will remain with us.

Mention of the calendar and it appears there is a wee battle taking place between John Horan and the GPA as to who should be credited with the idea of a split season.

I think they might also mention the role that the eating habits of a few residents in Wuhan played in arriving at this decision.

In case it might slip our minds, one of the silver linings of this pandemic has been the provision of a road map to save the GAA from itself.

Anyway that can be a conversation for a wet day, for the moment, let’s look at some of the happenings of these hurling championships thus far.

Can we begin with theCourceys factor?

Thirteen of the 30 teams involved in the five county championships began the weekend with no points after two rounds of games; 10 of them finished in the same position.

Only Courcey Rovers, Mallow and St Finbarr's improved their position but the crew from the Ballinspittle/ Ballinadee end of the constituency took it to a new level.

When they departed from their base last Friday night, it wasn’t beyond the bounds of possibility, that they would call to the statue and the request would be all about relegation avoidance.

A few hours later when they returned, relegation was for others and they had achieved what could only be termed the impossible.

A 2-22 to 0-13 victory over Aghada with Richard Sweetnam contributing 1-9 propelled them up the table faster than Big Phil could tour Ireland and in the process they have qualified for a quarter-final meeting with Watergrasshill.

It was some Houdini act.

Of the 30 teams that qualified, Courcey Rovers were the only side to do it on two points.

Unintended consequences are just that and one that presents in the new format is the hammerings some teams have suffered which would not have happened previously.

With scoring difference so vital, there is now, no easing off the pedal.

A few examples, in an effort to turn their season around, much has been mentioned about the mighty St Finbarr’s in terms of changing team managements which saw such luminaries as Donal O’Grady and Ger Cunningham coming to the rescue.

On Saturday they cut loose and inflicted a 24-point defeat on Carrigtwohill which ensured their good name will not be soiled by relegation discussions. It will also be a source of comfort that members of the next generation grabbed some of the scoring headlines with Ethan Twomey getting 2-4 and Jack Cahalane chipping in with five points.

Blackrock kept the throttle fully open for the duration against Bishopstown and won by 19, had it been one less, they would have missed out on the semi-final spot to Sars.

To provide further clarification to the belief that every point counts, let us look at the Senior A championship, Fr O’Neills, Charleville, and Kanturk won all their three games and with two of the three qualifying for the semi-final it came down to scoring difference.

The East Cork side finished on plus-34, Charleville on plus-31 and Kanturk on plus-30. To make it more interesting if the Kanturk side had scored one more in any of their three games, it would have meant a play-off between themselves and Charleville as both of them had scored 82 points in their three games. Awesome.

 Aidan Walsh tackled by Killeagh's Dylan Hogan, Cian Fogarty and Chris Coughlan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Aidan Walsh tackled by Killeagh's Dylan Hogan, Cian Fogarty and Chris Coughlan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Not to be outdone two teams in the Death Row championship, ie the Lower Intermediate, took putting the boot into a new level of pain infliction.

Castlemartyr had 26 to spare in their 5-18 to seven-point victory over Ballymartle’s second team. When last did Russell Rovers cause a green flag man so much grief? They posted 8-17 against Barryroe to secure a quarter-final clash with Milford.

Just a final anomaly/unintended consequence if you wish, nine of the 30 teams ended on three points with five of them qualifying for the for the quarter-final stages and four missing out.

Oh yes, every point counts.

Last week if you remember, we mentioned that an opportunity beckoned for Douglas to put forward their best foot and my God, did they do just that.

Their second-half performance against Midleton was certainly in breach of social distancing guidelines. I lost count of the number of times when the east Cork operators found themselves in the company of a number from the green and black army ensuring scoring chances for Midleton were as scarce as expressions of sympathy for the 81 attendees at the Connemara two-finger salute dinner.

A draw would have done the east Cork team and had it happened, it would have fitted in with the narrative that attaches to Douglas.

In the bog they would be mighty men on the top sod but not so much so on the bottom one. After that display, the narrative may have to be altered.

In the past, we have noted that Douglas has suffered as a consequence of having players on both Cork panels, you could argue they are the leading unit when it comes to having representatives on both Cork teams.

On a number of occasions when these players returned to club championship action an injury tale of woe was almost inevitable.

Just a wee query, when was the last time the two Cadogan brothers played three consecutive hurling championship games for their club?

Alan Cadogan. Picture: Jim Coughlan
Alan Cadogan. Picture: Jim Coughlan

On Saturday night their cumulative contribution was right up there with any pair of siblings in this competition; and talking of siblings, the contribution of 4-15 out of 4-19 by Mark and Brian Verling in Cloughduv’s IAHC victory against Glen Rovers is worthy of mention.

Douglas have raised our expectancy bar and their next outing against fellow south city side Blackrock should provide further enlightenment.

No doubt we are living in strange and unprecedented times but we are also living the club championship dream.

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