ERIN’S OWN will fly the flag for the eastern barony in the last four of the Co-Op Superstores Premier SHC, when they take to the field against Glen Rovers this Saturday night at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
The Caherlag side will be hoping to reach the club’s sixth senior county final and in the process maintain a very proud record for the Imokilly Division in terms of participation on the big day.
In fact, if Erin’s Own were to get over their next obstacle, they will guarantee that a team from the east will run out on county final day for the 17th successive season.
Newtownshandrum’s clash with Blackrock in 2003 was the last time that the Imokilly division did not have a direct interest in the showpiece occasion. Incidentally that year, Sarsfields only lost out to Newtown in a replayed semi-final, whilst Cloyne were narrowly edged out by Blackrock on the other side of the draw.
Since then, the Seán Óg Murphy Cup has wintered in the east on 11 occasions — Newtown (2003, 2005 and ’09), Glen Rovers (2015 and ’16) and Na Piarsaigh (2004) have necessitated the only alterations to the sat nav.
This run does of course include a superb two in a row for Erin’s Own, recorded with wins over Cloyne in 2006 and Newtown’ a year later.
Cloyne, who don’t need any reminding of their third successive fall at the final hurdle, were in fact one of four East Cork clubs to lose out in the decider since 2004.
Sarsfields, on three occasions, Bride Rovers and Erin’s Own were the others to fall short in their pursuit of the ultimate prize. Interestingly, the Erin’s Own setback came at the hands of the Glen, four years ago. Now the dye is cast for the big rematch with two great hurling men Martin Bowen and Richie Kelleher again wearing the receptive management bibs.
The past decade has been remarkably fruitful for East Cork teams as those aforementioned Glen Rovers’ success stories were the only disruption in the 10-year golden period. An extension of the run to 15 years, shows only two further reversals for Imokilly-based sides, with Newtown making the most of their Final appearances in both 2005 and 2009.
So can Erin’s Own maintain the eastern stranglehold in terms of final appearances or will this weekend mark the end of an era?
They face a huge challenge against a Glen Rovers team who certainly have shaped up well in their group games. Erin’s Own by contrast were not fancied against Sarsfield’s, having just sneaked into the knockout stages.
But the spirit of the parish shone through during a heroic hour in the Páirc a few weeks ago and now they know they have edged one step closer to the holy grail again.