IN a group containing Sarsfields, Midleton and Ballyhea and with just two teams going through to the knockout stages, Douglas were fully aware of what lay ahead in the Group Stage of the Premier Cork County SHC.
Sarsfields and Midleton were the strong fancies to emerge but it didn’t pan out that way, the city team doing an excellent job against Midleton and as a consequence, dumping them out of contention while at the same time ensuring their own participation in the quarter-finals.
This was one of the best victories recorded by a Douglas senior hurling team for many a long day and it was fully deserved.
But one good day must be followed up with another and they will probably have to be even better again for their Sunday afternoon clash with Southside neighbours Blackrock They have been hugely impressive in their three group games and are the fancy of quite a few to go the full distance.
Douglas are hoping that won’t happen and that they themselves might be in contention if they can overcome their near neighbours at Páirc Uí Chaoimh this Sunday, 2pm.
Team manager Mark O’Callaghan is certainly hoping that will be the case.
“It’s a big game, for us no bigger right now and we are looking forward to it. We had a great win over Midleton in our last game but now we must be up for it again.
“We were thrilled with the effort of the players in the Midleton game and we must try and take that now into the game on Sunday. I suppose the most pleasing thing for us the last day was how the players stood up to the challenge in the last 15 minutes or so.
“The game was right into the melting pot and in the past, we came out on the wrong end of some of those type of games. We showed massive character to win that game but we must replicate that effort again this time."
A big problem in the past for Douglas has been the dual-player mandate, players out one week with the hurlers and with the footballers a week later. That’s not so this time and O’Callaghan believes the availability of players like the Cadogan brothers and Shane Kingston all the time has been a huge factor.
“It has, there’s no point in saying otherwise. We have had them in training all the time, they are not with Cork either so that has been great for us.
“These lads bring a lot of experience to the set-up as do players like Mark Harrington and Stephen Moylan.
“These fellows bring on the younger lads like David Maher, our goalkeeper who has come in and done very well, Brian Turnbull, Cillian O’Donovan and other younger lads.
“They encourage these young players and that was evident on the night we played Midleton."
Now it’s the acid test against the most decorated club in the county, O’Callaghan is under no illusions.
“Look, Blackrock are a very good team, they were in a final not so long ago and are a side with a fine physical presence. They have put up some big scores in the group stage and they are a side that are fancied by many.
“They’ll be favourites against us but we will go into the game believing in ourselves and trying to build on what we achieved against Midleton.
“We certainly are not for a second looking beyond the Rockies and we must apply ourselves for the full hour.
“There’s a good buzz at training and it’s just a pity that we won’t have our supporters present. By they get to see the games being streamed and that’s great for them."
This is certainly one of the biggest games this Douglas side will play. For years people have preached about the potential that exists year in, year out and more often than not it has not been realised.
Winning in the manner that they did against Midleton will boost them considerably, however, but it’s all about backing up one good performance with another.
Do that tomorrow and they should not be too far away against one of the most impressive teams in the competition up to now.
A Southside cracker surely awaits.