SO many talking points after the second weekend of games in the various Cork County hurling championships.
The weather sizzled and so did some of the games and the picture is now becoming a bit clearer as to who will be hurling after the group stages are completed and who will not.
The absence of supporters at all the games is a massive negative, there is an obvious lack of atmosphere in every ground, all the more so in the bigger ones but, to be fair, the players have got on with it, getting into the zone and as a result some of the hurling has been top-drawer stuff.
Quite a few teams will go into their final group game safe in the knowledge that whatever the outcome, they will be hurling deeper into the campaign.
However, conversely, quite a few more won’t be and their season is as good as done, just playing for pride in their next game in a few weeks.
One of the main topics of conversation over the past few days has been the demise of the Barrs, two losses against the Glen and Na Piarsaigh decreeing that they cannot reach the next stage of the Premier competition.
In fact, the emphasis now shifts in their final game with Carrigtwohill to trying to avoid getting immersed in a relegation struggle.
After the defeat against the Glen there was still a belief that things could be turned around against Na Piarsaigh who, after all, did not set the world alight in their draw with Carrigtwohill.
But any expectation of a Barrs revival quickly evaporated and in the end they were a distant second-best to another Northside outfit.
It was Na Piarsaigh who turned the ship around, upping the ante substantially and as a result they will now face into their game with great rivals from Blackpool in a confident frame of mind.
The top spot in the group will be on the line in that game and that should make for an old fashioned Northside derby.
Last season there was what you would describe as cautious optimism in Togher after reaching the semi-final.
They did lose to Imokilly by two goals but progress had surely been made.
Now however, it’s very much a case of having taken one step forward last season, they have now taken two steps in the other direction.
This was never going to be an easy group with the Glen, Piarsaigh and Carrigtwohill but the belief was that at the very least the Barrs would be going into the last game with everything on the line.
That hasn’t happened and that’s a pity because Cork hurling needs a club of such high standing challenging at the business end of campaigns.
Carrigtwohill were meant to be rank outsiders in the group despite reaching the semi-final last season but, not for the first time, they have proved people wrong.
Drawing with Na Piarsaigh, losing by just a brace of points to the Glen, they are not out of the chase and they certainly have something to play for against the ‘Barrs in three weeks time even if their points difference is inferior.
All the main contenders are still very much in the equation and already the anticipation levels are rising in advance of the winner takes all showdown between Midleton and Douglas.
Midleton excelled after half-time in their easy win over Ballyhea and were much more productive in the attacking stakes.
Conor Lehane secured a whopping 3-11 for them and that’s some return any day of the week. This fellow is one of the best forwards in the country when he’s playing at the top end of his game and he’s capable of winning a game almost on his own.
His form had dipped, few would argue with that but the signs are very positive again that he’s nearing his best again. That’s very good news too on the intercounty front. On the other side, the form of Shane Kingston for Douglas is very encouraging too, six points from play in their loss to Sars was very good going.
For the second weekend on the trot the Sars duo of Liam Healy and James Sweeney impressed again, Sweeney with 0-4 from play and Healy with 1-6.
Add in Jack O’Connor’s 2-1, and it illustrates the prowess in this Sars attack.
Without a doubt, the most impressive performance of the weekend came from the Rockies who demolished Newtownshandrum, the side that had beaten them 12 months ago and who had a great comeback win in their opener against Bishopstown.
The general consensus that has been talked about now for a while was that the Rockies were going in the right direction, constructing a firm platform and building on it.
They were in a final not so long ago, won the intermediate county last season and whilst that might be small fry to some given the club’s standing, it was an important win and for the players on the team.
It was a segment of the platform that they are now building.
It’s still early days but maybe the old giants in Church Road are stirring again.
Erin’s Own had a splendid win too against Bishopstown, recovering from being nine points in arrears at one stage.
That was the second week running that this has happened. They trailed by something similar against the Rockies, recover but ultimately came up short.
This time they didn’t and it is all set up nicely now for a showdown with Newtown.
They must not find themselves chasing that game again but this victory over a ‘Town side that has now thrown away two big advantage in their two games will give them a greater inner belief.
It’s all simmering nicely now before the final group games across the landscape.
Four-in -a-row seeking Imokilly will be watching with interest.