COULD I begin by asking a wee question: has Covid played a role in Cork coming up with the most perfect county championships?
From many angles, that appears to be the case. OK, let’s park the obvious issue in relation to the massive demand placed on dual clubs for a moment but a huge modicum of what is on offer is so commendable.
Of course, if that be the case, you could say that it’s just such a pity that the multitudes aren’t allowed in to view the almost perfect product. In just over two weeks, the concluding stages of the league section of the five main county hurling championships will be completed and correct me if I am wrong but the vast majority of the teams still have something to play for.
Let’s have a quick glance at the Premier Senior and the situation that prevails here is an exemplar of what is happening in each of the other four grades. At this top level, where only one of the six teams that will qualify is guaranteed a semi-final spot you take it that each team that is still in contention will be endeavouring to do their best.
Then at the basement department where you have two places up for grabs in the dreaded relegation final the competition is just as intense After Midleton’s demolition of Ballyhea on Friday night last, where the chief tormentor was Conor Lehane who noticed 3-11, most observers would feel that the North Cork outfit are at the top of the queue for the eviction notice but right now they are in a better position than St Finbarr's.
Both of them are on zero points but Ballyhea’s scoring difference of -22 is more favourable than the Togher’s side’s tally of -26. After the Barrs surprising capitulation to Na Piarsaigh on Sunday, most media reports were zoning in on the that the city blues were out of the championship which of course is factually correct but my God, you take it as read that they will be a full-tilt to avoid defeat against Carrigtwohill on the final day.
Mention Carrigtwohill if they were to win and if Glen Rovers could inflict a significant defeat on their northside rivals, then Carrigtwohill could get one of those coveted top six positions.
What a match should ensue between Midleton and Douglas, a draw would see the Magpies through whereas Douglas have to win and prove once for all, that they are serious worthy members of this house.
Blackrock play Bishopstown and like Sars and the Glen, they will be all out to get that much-treasured semi-final berth where as the west city side who probably in truth could and should have won at least one if not both their two games so far can still save their season by winning this one and remember that they have a better points difference than either the Barrs and Ballyhea.
One thought that has crossed my mind is that the six games in each grade will all have to throw in at the same time to ensure fairness.
Many of you, who would be fans of association football across the water would be aware of the tension that attaches to the last day of matches in each of the divisions from Premier down to League 2. Well, I will assure you, nothing will equate to what’s in store for Cork hurling fans.
It’s conceivable that in one of the 30 games that if a penalty is awarded in the 69th minute, a decision might be made to go for a point rather than a goal depending on what’s happening elsewhere.
I suggest each team should have at least 3 people on duty checking other results so as to make the correct decisions! Did we ever think that the Cork championships would come to this?
In the massively competitive Senior B hurling, Kanturk, Charleville and Fr O'Neill’s are dominating their respective groups and one would one think that the eventual winners will come from this trio.
Prior to the final round of games, the three teams on the sheriff’s list are Killeagh, Kilworth and Mallow. Will one of them go down?
As has always been the case, the premier intermediate grade is all so close with Castlelyons, Watergrasshill Carrigaline the pacesetters at this juncture. Prior to the opening round, Courcey Rovers were on many people’s betting slip but two games later they are sharing the bottom rung with near neighbours Valley Rovers and Blackrock’s second team.
In the premier A, the Mid Cork club Éire Óg are justifying their position of being favourites and if they can handle the challenges of being very much a dual club, their captain should be making an acceptance speech at the end of September. Quite a few of you will be familiar with the term 'the group of death' here the lower intermediate championship could very well be described as the championship of death.
Put simply, this grade will be decommissioned at the end of next year and all the occupants at that stage will be relocated to the junior championship of their respective divisions. Never before in the history of mankind will so many teams be relegated from the one championship on the same day!
The only way to survive the greatest regulation slicer of all time is to win championship this year or in 2021.
Because Castlemartyr and St Catherine’s are on full points after two games we will install them as favourites. Of course, one will go down this year and Ballymartle’s second team is ticking most of the boxes at this juncture.
A final thought. Of the 12 games played so far, four of them ended up in draws and in another two other matches the victory margin was a point.
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