PIHC previews: Watergrasshill and Blarney expected to progress

PIHC previews: Watergrasshill and Blarney expected to progress

Aaron Ricken, Watergrasshill, takes on Cormac Desmond, Valley Rovers. The Hill are unbeaten this season. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

CASTLELYONS and Carrigaline have the advantage of looking on this weekend as the other four remaining contenders in the Cork County PIHC battle it out in the two quarter-finals this Saturday.

Not for the first time, it’s a wide-open race with all the six still standing believing that they can continue to make the desired impact.

Carrigaline and Castlelyons made it through to the last four on the basis that they were unbeaten at the group stage and had a superior points difference.

Watergrasshill had an unblemished record too during the group stage, winning all their three games but just losing out on a semi-final place on points difference.

PIHC quarter-final: Watergrasshill v Courcey Rovers, Ballyanly, 4pm:

GOING into their final group game against Aghada the main priority for Courcey Rovers was to get something from the game to avoid a relegation battle.

They had lost their two previous games and the picture did not look rosy.

But look what transpired, they kept the best until last and came away with a stunning victory and in the process found themselves through to the quarter-finals.

Full marks to them for reinventing themselves and now they are right in the mix.

The ‘Hill have been very impressive thus far and will be slight favourites here but in this competition carrying that tag can mean very little.

Courcey Rovers will look again to Stephen Nyhan, Ritchie Sweetnam, Tadgh O’Sullivan and Ronan Nyhan and one must recall that it wasn’t that long ago they lost in a final to Charleville after a replay.

Shane O’Regan, Shane Og O’Regan, goalie Daire O’Callaghan, Kevin O’Neill and Sean Desmond will be the main men for the ‘Hill again and they look a better bet just now but, at the same time, you’d be inclined to keep your money in your pocket.

Verdict: Watergrasshill.

PIHC quarter-final: Ballincollig v Blarney, Páirc Uí Rinn, 7.30pm.

A Mid Cork derby to really look forward to. Both have done what was required of them to qualify and this could be a cracker.

Blarney have a lot of quality in the ranks with young guns, Shane Barrett and Padraig Power very influential. Mark Coleman is their key player and how Ballincollig try to curb his influence will be interesting.

Joe Jordan brings a wealth of experience to the side as does Paul O’Leary.

They have been a bit inconsistent but they are where they want to be.

Ballincollig have done very well to emerge from their group and they too have a lot of seasoned performers in the side.

There’s a good blend as well and Cian Dorgan has been getting a lot of scores.

 Barry Coleman, Ballincollig, tackles Richard Lombard, Ballinhassig. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Barry Coleman, Ballincollig, tackles Richard Lombard, Ballinhassig. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Sean Walsh, Cian Dorgan, Dave Bowen, Liam Jennings, goalie James Linehan and Shane Murphy have been doing well and it’s likely that this will go to the wire.

Blarney have a bit more experience in the grade and might have that extra bit of firepower in front of goal.

But it’s going to be close.

Verdict: Blarney.

FRIDAY: PIHC relegation play-off: Valley Rovers v Blackrock.

Bit of a surprise to see Valleys in this situation while it’s the Rockies' first year up. The Rovers will look to Chris O’Leary, Noel O’Donovan, John Cottrell, David Lynch and Cormac Kilduff.

The Rockies will have to improve a lot too but they have plenty of good hurlers like Colin O’Reilly to give them a fighting chance.

However, the smarter money will be on the men from Innishannon to survive the drop.

Verdict: Valley Rovers.

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