THE twin objectives of most clubs in the Premier Cork County SHC at the outset of the campaign was to, number one avoid getting into a relegation struggle and number two to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition.
It was a new format this season and clubs had to be tuned in from the word go, the margin for error was minimal and if you lost your opening game the pressure was applied immediately.
Erin’s Own found themselves in that situation, losing to Blackrock in their opening encounter which put them on the back foot immediately.
They subsequently found themselves trailing to Bishopstown by a significant tally with time starting to run out.
It looked at that juncture in that game that their season might come to a premature end and that getting out of the group was not going to happen.
But they exhibited tremendous character to claw their way back into the game and got the win in the end.
They displayed great character and an inner belief to do so and it stood to them in their final group assignment with Newtownshandrum.
Again they trailed coming up to the death, a goal behind deep into stoppage time and a near miracle required.
But what transpires, they manufacture a late, late goal, the final puck of the game to secure a draw and the point garnered was enough to send them through to the quarter-final.
Now they must do it all over again as they put the finishing touches to their preparations for the local derby collision with Sarsfields. Team boss, Martin Bowen is looking forward to the game but fully aware of the magnitude of the task that awaits them.
“Firstly, I would say that our initial objective was to not be in the relegation game and secondly to try and reach the knockout stages.
“We were in a tough group with Blackrock, Newtown and Bishopstown and with only two coming through, the task was a big one.
“But we got there, maybe made it a bit difficult for ourselves but the big thing for us now is that we are hurling into the middle of September.
“We’d certainly have taken that at the start of the group stage.’’
And what has been the most pleasing thing for one of the club’s great servants.
“Look, the players deserve the credit. They have got us to where we wanted to be and in doing so showed that they have the type of character and belief that we wanted.’’
Bowen, however, believes that the bar has now been significantly raised.
“There’s no point in saying otherwise, Sars are one of the favourites, alongside the Glen and Blackrock, I would think.
“They have been very impressive in the group against Midleton, Ballyhea and Douglas and we know what we are up against.
“But we believe in ourselves, the players have done all that we asked of them since the start of the year.
“We had nothing to do with them for months because of the lockdown but they kept themselves as fit as they could.
“The training since the Newtown game has gone well. Kieran ‘Hero’ Murphy who was unavailable for the last game is back with us and he brings a lot of experience to the set-up.
“Look, we are going into this game as underdogs, there is no point in saying otherwise, we know what Sars are, one of the best around but it’s a local derby and we’ll just see how it goes.’’
And the Erin’s Own boss is disappointed that nobody will be able to support the two teams.
“That’s a pity but that’s the way it is and we have to accept it and get on with trying to win the game and I am sure Sars will be the same.’’ Bowen is correct in suggesting that Sars are the favourites and that they are one of the competition’s main fancies.
But there is a lot of depth too in this Erin’s Own team, players who have county medals tucked away from the years 2006 and 2007 and there is a healthy youthful presence in the side as well.
It’s a local derby in the real sense, two sides separated by a very short distance who know each other very well.
It’s one to look forward to on Saturday night.