The John Horgan column: Blackrock and the Glen is great for hurling purists

The John Horgan column: Blackrock and the Glen is great for hurling purists

Cian McCarthy, Blackrock, and Adam Lordan, Glen Rovers, battling in last year's U21 P1 Hurling Championship. The club meet next Sunday in the Premier Senior decider.  Picture: Jim Coughlan.

IT’S staggering really when you think that two of the country’s most decorated clubs have not faced each other in a Cork County SHC final in 42 years.

Well, that’s all about to change next Sunday when the Rockies and the Glen collide in a final for the first time since 1978.

The Rockies won that final comfortably on a scoreline of 4-12 to 1-7 with the late, great John Horgan collecting the trophy.

It’s also fairly staggering too that this is the first all-city club final since 1990 when Na Piarsaigh defeated the Barrs.

So, in many ways, one could say that the old order has finally been restored, two city clubs are top of the pile again.

The Glen and the Rockies are household names across the GAA landscape and were once upon a time two of the most feared clubs in the country such was their success at home, in the province and on the national stage.

Action when the Glen and Blackrock met in 1956.
Action when the Glen and Blackrock met in 1956.

Neither of the two will get the opportunity to extend their season beyond the local campaign with no provincial or All-Ireland club championship.

But that will not bother either of them, securing the local bragging rights are all that matters now, the opportunity to shorten what may well be a very difficult winter.

Both are in the final on merit and it’s good to see what has the potential to be an old-fashioned Cork County SHC final.

Back in 1978, you had 25, 000 plus attending the final between these two but next Sunday there will be just a handful present because of the health crisis.

That’s a pity because the Glen and the Rockies deserve a huge audience because of their great tradition.

Brian Cody always says that the best team wins the All-Ireland every year. It will be a similar story in Páirc Uí Chaoimh next Sunday, the best team will win the county and whether it’s the Rockies or the Glen. they will have deserved it.

Neither might have been at their best last Saturday in their respective both semi-finals, the Rockies against UCC and the Glen against Erin’s Own.

In fact, the outcome in both instances could well have been different.

But it was the ability of both to chisel out the result in the closing minutes when the gun was put to their head.

Both the Blackpool outfit and the Church Road one displayed tremendous resilience when it really mattered, Blackrock may be that bit more when they found themselves trailing by three points in the final 10 minutes of extra-time.

Their answer was to put up five unanswered points to swing the pendulum their way and for that they deserve immense praise.

UCC put up 34 scoresand still lost and that took some doing on the part of the Rockies to be able to outscore them even if it was only by the bare minimum.

And before we leave UCC, they have been a credit to the college on the Western Road this season, putting in a huge effort to dethrone the champions of the past three years from Imokilly and participating in that epic encounter last Saturday.

The Glen found themselves on the wrong end of the scoreline too last weekend, particularly in the early sequences when they trailed by six or seven points.

They were still five down at the interval only to replicate the Rockies thereafter with their fighting spirit again coming to the forefront.

Robbie Cotter celebrates. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Robbie Cotter celebrates. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Both management teams led by the Glen’s Richie Kelleher and the Rockies Fergal Ryan made astute changes when the need arose and in the case of the Rockies, Tadhg Deasy has now given his selectors some headache in advance of the final after his five-point haul upon his introduction.

The Glen brought in that wonderful club servant Paddy Cunningham too at half-time in their win over Erin’s Own and you cannot buy that type of experience at that juncture in a game.

This will be the Glen’s fifth final since 2014 and that surely represents remarkable consistency, all the more so because of how things transpired in that 2014 final with Sarsfields.

The Rockies have the final of three years ago against Imokilly to draw on too and very recent losing finalists, as both clubs are, will have that extra motivation.

Blackrock’s, being 18 years without a title, will die out on that pitch next Sunday to end that lengthy famine and when the final whistle blew last Saturday against UCC it seemed that the whole of Blackrock left out a collective roar even if there was only less than a 100 supporters present.

The Glen will come in from Blackpool too more determined than ever to add another title which would be their third in six years. That would be some going in a championship that is still hugely difficult to win.

Cian O'Connor of Erin's Own in action against Simon Kennefick of Glen Rovers. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Cian O'Connor of Erin's Own in action against Simon Kennefick of Glen Rovers. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Something has to give next Sunday, the 100% record of both clubs in this season’s championship will have to go and it will take a lot of bravery to call it when the time comes.

Both benches will again play a part and it may even come down to who has the strongest one.

It can happen too that on a final day a player who may not have been so prominent along the journey bursts forth and has the game of his life.

It really is set up for a cracking decider between two clubs who richly deserve to be the participants in it.

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