IT’S been so far so good in the Premier Cork County SHC and it all boils down now to the final group games to determine who will make it through to the knockout stages of the competition.
A couple of teams are better positioned than others to extend their season and the pressure on them this weekend is not as great.
However, in all six games there is something to play for with a couple of teams striving too to avoid being drawn into a relegation battle.
It all makes for some compelling fare.
Douglas v Douglas, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 7pm:
The importance of this game cannot be stressed enough, the winning team reaching the last eight, the loser being eliminated.
Both sides lost to Sarsfields but defeated Ballyhea and it all comes down to this hour’s hurling now.
Both have impressed at times, not so at times too but given the attacking prowess contained at opposite ends of the field, the potential is huge.
Douglas coughed up four goals against Sars and will need to tighten up in defence. Their attack will again rely heavily on Shane Kingston, Alan Cadogan and Brian Turnbull if he is fit.
Conor Lehane will have to be policed in the Midleton attack and Tommy O’Connell, Luke O’Farrell and Cormac Beausang can be troublesome figures too.
Midleton look to have the greater balance and should shade it.
- Verdict: Midleton.
Sarsfields v Ballyhea, Mourneabbey, 7pm:
Sarsfields will start as strong favourites here to top their group and maybe go straight to a semi-final.
However, they won’t be complacent either against a Ballyhea side that troubled Midleton for a while the last day.
Liam Healy, Jack O’Connor and James Sweeney are getting serious scores for Sars while the experience of Craig Leahy, Conor O’Sullivan and Danny Kearney is a big factor too.
Pa O’Callaghan, Caoleann Cox and Tom Hanley are hurling well for Ballyhea but it’s very difficult to oppose Sarsfields.
- Verdict: Sarsfields.
Glen Rovers v Na Piarsaigh, Páirc Uí Rinn, 7pm:
A northside derby to decide who tops their group. Na Piarsaiigh were very impressive in defeating the Barrs and their confidence will be high going in here.
The Glen did not have it all their own way against Carrigtwohill but Conor Dorris got the big scores for them.
Patrick Horgan is the Glen’s key player again while Donal Cronin, Brian Moylan and Simon Kennefick are vital to their cause too.
Evan Sheehan, Shane Forde, Craig Hanafin. Daire Connery and Kevin Moynihan will be important for the Farranree outfit.
The Glen are favourites but Piarsaigh will be fired up here and this could be close right to the end.
However, the Glen must be the choice.
- Verdict: Glen Rovers.
St Finbarr’s v Carrigtwohill, Carrigaline, 7pm:
The Barrs have a new management team in place for this one and that should freshen things up. It’s a must win game for them to avoid the relegation issue and the bottom line is simple, they must be a lot better this time.
The three Cahalanes, Eoghan Finn, Eoin Keane, Glenn O’Connor, Bill Hennessy and Bill Beckett are key players for them against a Carrig side that has done well up to now even if they have only a point to show for it.
Pat O’Sullivan, Liam Gosnell, Tomas Hogan and Ronan Power are big players for Carrig and they won’t go down easily.
However, a reaction is expected from the Barrs and it’s one of the club’s biggest games for a long time.
- Verdict: St Finbarr’s.
Erin’s Own v Newtownshandrum, Glantane, 7pm:
This could be the game of the weekend, no quarter asked or given. Erin’s Own must start better this time and not be playing catch up.
Newtown must recover from a heavy loss to the Rockies and need more consistency over the hour.
Eoghan Murphy, Shay Bowen, Stephen Cronin, Sean Kelly and Maurice O’Carroll are very experienced Erin’s Own players while Jamie Coughlan must be curbed in the Newtown attack.
Conor Twomey, Tim O’Mahony and Mattie Ryan are big players too for Newtown and this one is very hard to call.
- Verdict: Newtown.
Blackrock v Bishopstown, Inniscarra, 7pm:
The Rockies are riding high while the ’Town are down in the dumps after squandering big leads against Newtown and Erin’s Own.
It’s a must win game for the ’Town but it’s looking good for the Rockies at this point in time.
John Cashman, Robbie Cotter, Shane O’Keeffe, Tadgh Deasy and Alan Connolly are doing well for the Rockies while the ’Town hope their luck will change with Shane O’Neill, Pa Cronin and the Murray bothers key for them again.
Very hard to vote against the Rockies.
- Verdict: Blackrock.