FOR the teams beaten in the opening round of the Cork senior hurling championships, another defeat this weekend and it will be season over.
That’s the reality.
The decision of the Cork County Board to have only two teams going into the knockout stages of the championship from the groups has certainly made things a lot more interesting and it will mean that some high-profile teams are going to be making an early exit.
Three city teams, the Barrs, Bishopstown and to a lesser extent, Na Piarsaigh after their draw with Carrigtwohill, are entering the second round of group games in a very precarious position.
The Barrs and the manner of their loss to Glen Rovers must have been very worrying for their supporters and they simply have to get something from their joust with Na Piarsaigh.
Another loss will ensure that the lengthy famine in Togher without a title will be extended by another year at least, year 28.
Na Piarsaigh are a bit better off in so far as they have a point on the board, but they need to get something from this game too.
They went into their game last weekend strongly fancied to get past Carrigtwohill, but they had to depend on an equalising point in the sixth minute of injury-time.
With the introduction of the water break after 15 and 45 minutes, the issue of time added on is becoming contentious.
The water break is meant to last the minimum of time, but in some cases referees are a bit more liberal and it can last two or three minutes.
As a result, there is uncertainty when the 60 minutes have elapsed about how much extra-time is going to be played.
The water break should be applied more stringently and with more consistency across the board.
And let’s be honest, do we really need it at all for a half that lasts just 30 minutes?
It can affect a team’s momentum too, a team going very well are suddenly stopped in their tracks and that momentum can be lost when the sides resume.
Anyway, Bishopstown will be kicking themselves for losing an eight-point lead against Newtown with eight minutes of normal time remaining.
Fair play to the North Cork team, it was a marvellous comeback, but the Town’s failure to protect that significant advantage might come back to hurt them even more.
It now means that they must get something from their weekend clash with Erin’s Own.
This is a make or break encounter after the Caherlag side’s loss to Blackrock, a case of the winner takes it all here and the loser faces a long winter of discontent.
Again that’s reality.
There is so much at stake over the coming days now for a lot of teams, all the first-day losers are in the last chance saloon. Lose again and there will be no way back.
It’s a pity that so few fans are getting to see the games but, hopefully, that will change shortly.
There’s just the one game again in Páirc Uí Chaoimh this weekend, Sars against Douglas, both first-round winners.
That means that they have a bit of leeway going into this game as a loss would not put them out of the chase.
Last Saturday night, headquarters was a bit ridiculous, just around 50 supporters present for the Barrs and the Glen in a stadium that can hold 45,000 people.
That, of course, is no reflection at all on the Cork County Board, they are fully abiding by the rules set down. After all, for last Saturday’s FA Cup final at Wembley you had no spectators at all.
Surely in these type of stadiums, more spectators could be safely accommodated.
Across the border in Northern Ireland, you can have 400 fans in attendance for a GAA game.
But we just have to accept the guidelines set down.
Finally, the game this weekend may very well be in the Senior A championship between Fr O’Neill’s and Bride Rovers.
An East Cork derby, both first-round winners and both impressing. If I could choose a game to attend this weekend, it would be this one.
The team from Rathcormac, traditionally so difficult to overcome against the newcomers to senior championship hurling.
This could be a belter of a game on Friday night at Páirc Uí Rinn.