HURLING goes on the back burner now for a few weeks in all the grades of the Cork County Championships but that’s not saying that clubs will be taking things easy.
That certainly won’t be the case and things may well be the opposite, clubs putting in a huge effort on the training ground, especially those whose season will be on the line in the final group games.
Across all the grades there are quite a few clubs going to be preparing to enter the last chance saloon.
For those clubs, there is a big onus of responsibility on their management teams.
They will be fully aware that improvement has to be forthcoming in that final group game and the flaws that were evident thus far have to be eradicated.
In a season like no other, you could say it’s make or break time.
For some, of course, the season is already done, having lost their two opening games there is nothing but pride left to play for now.
Clubs like the Barrs, Bishopstown, Killeagh, Valley Rovers and Kilworth find themselves in that situation, the season other than maybe a relegation encounter in just two hours. The Town face a long winter of discontent, maybe more than others because in their two games they found themselves in total control only to cough it all up in the final 10 minutes or so.
But a substantial advantage in a game of hurling means very little now, a team can hold an eight- or nine-point advantage only to have it whittled away in two strikes of a sliothar.
That type of scenario is not just confined to the club scene and on the inter-county front, we have seen it happen as well in the recent past.
A lapse or two in concentration can change everything, a lot of great work can be undone in a short few minutes.
Things are nicely poised in all the grades going into the final game, a team that has won and lost a game having everything to play for.
Without a doubt, the biggest game of the season up to now will be the clash of Midleton and Douglas in the Premier Senior grade.
When these two came out of the drum alongside Sarsfields and Ballyhea and with just two teams progressing to the knockout stages, there was always going to be a big gun falling by the wayside.
One might say that Douglas should not be regarded as a big gun because they haven’t even got one title to their credit but for quite some time now they a team with probably the greatest potential of most.
True, potential wins nothing but there is a sense that sooner rather than later they will make the big breakthrough.
That might be easier said than done and making that breakthrough is never easy for any club trying to win their first title.
The dual mandate has hit Douglas hard down the years as it has other clubs and it is a big factor.
So much is riding now on this Midleton and Douglas game and whoever comes out on top will take huge belief from it.
It’s a game not to be missed when the ball is thrown in.
Some of the best forwards in the business will be on opposite sides, Alan Cadogan, ShaneKingston and Brian Turnbull, if he’s fit, for the city team with Conor Lehane, Luke O’Farrell and young Tommy O’Connell for Midleton.
How both defences cope with these guys could well decide the outcome.
Erin’s Own and Newtownshandrum is another of those make or break games, both with a win and a loss thus far.
Newtown lost heavily to the Rockies the last day while Erin’s Own made a strong recovery against Bishopstown.
As a result, Erin’s Own might be in a better place going into this one but one way or the other this should be a right aul battle.
With so few able to attend the games there is a heavy dependency on live streaming of games and newspaper coverage to keep the supporters informed.
And here on Leeside, both papers have not been found wanting in that department.
In fact, the coverage is first class.
So, it’s back to the training ground now until the end of the month and what transpires there may decide so much.
Despite the lack of attendance, quite a few the hurling games thus far have been quite good and, hopefully, they’ll get better.