Knockout club hurling championship in Cork would an exciting throwback

Knockout club hurling championship in Cork would an exciting throwback
Charleville's Cathal Carroll scoops up the sliotar as Glen Rovers' Dean Brosnan closes in during a cracker last summer. Picture: John Delea.

THERE is cautious optimism that we may still get a GAA season, maybe not the one that we have been accustomed to but a revised edition.

One thing seems fairly certain, however, the national hurling and football leagues will not be completed and if there is a resumption the emphasis will be fully on championship fare.

If the season continues to remain in a deferral state the likelihood is that the championships may have to be played on a knockout basis.

It would be very much a case of beggars not being choosers.

The Cork County Board had devised a new format for their championships and it would have been interesting to see how that would have panned out.

A knockout championship, as a one-off for this season, would be a throwback to times past but at the same time, it would be something to look forward to.

Take the Cork SHC, two teams going at it hell for leather with no safety net, no second chance.

Now, that may not be the case at all and the powers that be in Páirc Uí Chaoimh might have something different in mind if there is a resumption.

But imagine if you had the Glen and the Rockies in an opening-round game, the winner taking it all, the loser having their season terminated, however long or short that season might turn out to be.

Bride Rovers' Michael Collins has his shot blocked down by Douglas' Stephn Moylan during the Cork SHC round 1 game at Riverstown last year. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Bride Rovers' Michael Collins has his shot blocked down by Douglas' Stephn Moylan during the Cork SHC round 1 game at Riverstown last year. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

If there is a Cork County SHC there would be so many questions to answer whatever the format is.

Firstly, could Imokilly make it four titles on the trot?

They would certainly be installed as favourites again despite losing key players like Deccie Dalton (below), Mark O’Keeffe and Billy Dunne who would be plying their trade at senior level with Fr O’Neill’s. 

There would be others too but the return of Castlelyons duo Colm Spillane and Niall O’Leary would offset a lot of that.

Of course, if the season gets up and running, Imokilly could be hit with the games coming thick and fast and you might well have a situation of a player playing with his club in the afternoon and with the divisional team in the evening.

Imokilly’s season for the past number of years began in January, travelling to play challenge games outside the county and that was of benefit to them afterwards.

However, with the players still at the disposal of new boss Ciarán Cronin they will be very difficult to dislodge as champions.

Since their reign as champions began in 2017 they have been involved in some fascinating encounters, none more so than last season’s third-round encounter with Midleton, the side they had been in the final the season before.

That game in Carrigtwohill was played on a Sunday night before a huge audience and it contained 54 scores, Imokilly putting up 34 points on the board, a tally that must have been very close to a record in the number of white flags registered.

At one stage they led by 14 points and looked set to completely crush their East Cork opponents.

The advantage was 0-27 to 0-13 at the start of the fourth quarter only for Midleton to stage a remarkable recovery by belting in four goals.

With five minutes remaining it was down to a three-point game and anything was now possible.

But Imokilly regained their composure and ran out winners by six points but the crowd in Carrig certainly got value for money that night.

Midleton appointed Ben O’Connor as team coach at the outset of the season and his influence should ensure that the champions of 2013 would be challenging strongly again this time.

The Glen ran Imokilly very close in the county final, losing by just four points after conceding a sloppy goal.

There is still a hardcore of players in Blackpool that should ensure they are there or thereabouts again.

Another question to pose is, can the Barrs end what is now a 27-year famine without a county title? They reached the semi-final last season, losing by two goals to Imokilly and they are getting closer.

How close, though, can they get, that remains to be seen. But Cork hurling needs the Barrs on top again and the sooner that happens the better.

The Glen came in from the cold after 26 years without, we need the Barrs to do something similar now.

Another question to ask, can Douglas make the big breakthrough with the talent at their disposal after such rich underage success.

That would be a good story too if it came to pass.

If the championship does get the green light we could get a great Cork SHC, might there be a bolter from the pack similar to Carrigtwohill in 2011.

There would be loads of other questions too and all teams will be starting on a very level playing field, the advantage that others might have in times past in terms of preparation won’t be there this time.

And the margin for error would be at the absolute minimum if it was knockout.

More in this section

Sponsored Content