Midleton boss hails new championship format ahead of crunch tie with Douglas

Midleton boss hails new championship format ahead of crunch tie with Douglas
Craig Leahy, Sarsfields climbs higher than Aidan Ryan, Midleton, with Conor O'Sullivan, Sarsfields and Luke O'Farrell, Midleton, ready for the breaking ball. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

MIDLETON senior hurling team manager Ger Fitzgerald believes that Douglas will present a formidable hurdle in the Magpies attempt to reach the knockout stages of the Cork Premier SHC.

The sides collide at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday night in a winner take all situation, one of the two making it into the quarter-finals, the loser having their season ended.

They both have one victory in their group under their belts, both having beaten Ballyhea while losing to Sarsfields.

Midleton will start as slight favourites but the former Cork star forward believes that they will have to be right on top of their game to come through.

“Ourselves and Douglas is a huge game alright but I suppose so was the game that we had with Ballyhea.

“After we lost to Sars in our opening game our championship season was at an end if we had lost again.

“We got a performance out of the lads against Ballyhea, particularly in the second-half and that was significant in terms of getting a good result and now we must face Douglas who had a very tough match with Ballyhea.

“They had a very good match with Sars and I think if Shane Kingston had not picked up a fairly serious injury in my view early in the second-half that impacted on his performance for the rest of the match, I think it might have been a different outcome.

“Douglas are a very formidable team and we’ll have to prepare very well which we are doing and did with Ben O’Connor our coach.

“He is doing a great job and we are looking forward to the game on Saturday night but we are under no illusions and at best I would say it’s a 50/50 match."

Fitzgerald told the Echo that despite losing their opening game with Sarsfields, the players have been excellent, responding to that defeat and pushing on now for this make or break game.

“The players have been very good, we were well on track before the lockdown came and when that happened everything went to pieces and we did nothing during the lockdown.

“Lads had their fitness programmes, they followed them mostly to a tee, one or two might not have but as a group we did nothing, mostly out of respect for the front line workers who made a huge effort to keep everybody safe.

“We made no effort at all to gather, that would not have been fair until we got permission from the GAA to reconvene.

“The lads came back with huge enthusiasm but it had to be a lot more measured in terms of the physical loading.

“But we have gradually built it up and we are delighted with their commitment and we are all set for the Douglas game now."

The Midleton team manager believes that as well as Douglas having quality forwards like Alan Cadogan, Shane Kingston and Brian Turnbull, they also, he believes, have a solid defence.

“I was very impressed with their defence, Mark Harrington is very solid, Eoin Cadogan was playing in four or five different positions against Ballyhea.

“Eoin is a serious operator and I think that he sees this as an opportunity to put his hand up for inter-county selection later in the year.

“He is a player that I would have great regard for in terms of his ability, his steeliness and his mental toughness.

“He brings a sort of an edge to the game that’s not evident in a lot of players, he’s teak-tough and he engages in a bit of banter which is part of the game too. He’s a serious operator and a leader too.

“His brother Alan, Kingston and Turnbull, they are serious forwards and we have a tough match ahead of us but we are looking forward to it." 

Overall, Fitzgerald believes that the new championship format has been a success.

“The structure of the championship was outlined at the start of the year and when we re-convened we were just one game behind in that schedule.

“I think in terms of going forward the county board and maybe the GAA at large have a different issue to look at because this sort of a championship has got a lot of enthusiasm from supporters even if they had to watch it on TV or being streamed.

“I think it would be difficult to go back to having a match in April and then not again until August or September.

“This condensed championship is far better and I think it will be good for Cork hurling going forward."

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