OVER the past few weeks Virgin Media has been advertising its coverage of the closing stages of the Champions League and the Europa League.
It was appropriately named a ‘Festival of Football’ and it certainly provided very good entertainment and the fare was top class.
Now, the Cork County Board would be well within their right to term next weekend’s games in the various grades of their hurling championship as a ‘Festival of Hurling’.
In all the five grades there is something to play for, qualification for the knockout stages of the championship and conversely the relegation issues which are hovering over the head of quite a few clubs.
As the late Gay Byrne might say, there’s something for everybody in the audience even if there will be no audience present at the games.
That, of course, is a great pity because as sure as night follows day and in a perfect world you would have bumper attendances at all the games as the clubs bid to extend their season into the month of September.
It has worked out perfectly for those who advocated the group format and it makes for some potentially cracking games next Saturday night in the Premier Senior Championship and in the other grades as well.
The Premier Senior Championship has not failed to disappoint up to now and there is the prospect of a grand finale to it once the quarter-final pairings are finalised.
Only three teams are out of contention for a place in the knockout stages, Bishopstown, Ballyhea and the Barrs.
Their focus now is very much on trying to avoid being sucked into a relegation battle and for them this final group game is as important as any that they have played in recent times.
Things have not worked out for the Barrs in their two games to date and it was sad to see the management team led by Aidan Fitzpatrick depart.
Along with the other members of that management team, he has been a great Barrs servant and, hopefully, in time he and the others will bounce back to serve this great club again.
Now a new management team is in place, led by another Barrs legend, John Cremin and their game with Carrigtwohill is of huge importance.
Carrig were very unlucky not to take full points from their opener with Na Piarsaigh and they subsequently ran the Glen to a few points.
Carrigaline houses this game and it’s going to be nervous 60 minutes for all concerned.
The standout game in the Premier SHC is, of course, the collision of Midleton and Douglas.
The winner takes it all here, they extend their season with confidence going forward while the other goes home empty handed and facing a long Winter of discontent.
Some of the county’s best forwards are in opposition here and that could lead to a shootout at headquarters.
Midleton are favourites based on a far richer heritage at this level but Douglas must believe that on their day they can be a match for the best.
They showed decent form against Sarsfields but must up the tempo even more significantly here if they are finally going to make the impression that, year in, year out they are expected to make.
Sars will be expected to push for a semi-final place by defeating Ballyhea and rubber-stamp their status as one of the title favourites.
The Glen and Na Piarsaigh is a shootout for the top spot in their group, northside bragging rights at stake into the bargain.
The Glen will be favourites but Na Piarsaigh showed excellent form against the Barrs the last day and that has to give them extra belief going into this showdown.
Conor Dorris was very conspicuous for the Glen against Carrigtwohill after having a quiet game against the Barrs and this is what all the teams need, a player responding so positively after having what you’d say was a quiet day.
The Rockies have been sailing along nicely in calm waters up to now and they should finish their group on maximum points by defeating Bishopstown.
The Town must still be wondering why they are pointless up to now having put themselves in a very advantageous position in both their games with Newtownshandrum and Erin’s Own but failing to push on in the vital closing minutes.
Now they must re-group and reinvent themselves in this city derby to get out of the relegation mire.
When Erin’s Own take the field against Newtown, expect a fierce battle for supremacy in the bid to reach the knockout stages.
This is another winner takes it all situation and expect a good, old fashioned set to here. Both sides have mixed the good with the indifferent up to now and both will be seeking more consistency within the hour.
This is probably the most difficult of the six games in the Premier championship to call.
So, the stage is set for a super Saturday night around the county to determine who will move on, who will have the relegation sword hanging over them and who will be signing out until next season.
Later in the week we will have a more detailed look at all the games and how they might pan out.
It’s been a good premier championship up to now and there is the potential for it to get a lot better, beginning next Saturday night.