THE Red FM SHL title last season that went alongside the Cork County IHC title suggests that Blackrock are getting closer to the primary objective of regaining the SHC on Leeside.
They got themselves into a final in 2017, losing to Imokilly in the final and it’s very much on the cards that it will be sooner rather than later before the Sean Og Murphy Cup rests in Church Road again.
But it’s first things first for now and the challenge of retaining the SHL which begins with an opening game against Sarsfields, surely one of the most attractive games of the opening round.
Team boss Fergal Ryan, one of their greatest ever servants, is at the helm again and looking forward to the new campaign.
“Back again for another year and look, it’s easy enough for me to try and do something with Blackrock.
“We’ll try and give it everything again this year to try and win the Cork County SHC prize.
“We won the senior league last season and that has given us a bit of a platform, you are playing longer, the lads are getting a bit of silverware and they have something to show for their efforts.
“It’s definitely beneficial in the overall scheme of things and we are hoping it will give them the extra kick-on to go on and win the championship.’’
Ryan admitted that despite not winning the big prize it was a successful year in the Church Road club with the Cork County IHC tile also being won.
“Winning the intermediate was great for the club, it was important for the club to win an adult title and, hopefully, that will have a knock-on effect too.
“You can bring more fellows up into senior, fellows will want to do that and that’s ultimately what you want.
“We were disappointing in going out to Newtownshandrum at senior before the quarter-final stage so the goal is the same this time, go out and try and win the senior championship.
“Anything else outside of that you try to win too. Look, it wasn’t a bad year for Blackrock overall and we’ll go again now.
“We had quite a few younger players coming on, they are a year older now and they are gaining experience all the time.’’
It’s a brand new championship format this season and the former star player is optimistic about that too.
“Yes, we are in with Newtown, Bishopstown and Erin’s Own.You’ll give it a chance to see what it’s like.
“It’s hard to assess it before it happens but we’ll know after this year. It seems that it has been done with the best interests but the big problem facing the GAA is the gap.
“We are playing in April and the earliest we’ll be out again is late July. That’s a massive gap that you are not playing championship hurling after the 17th of April for us until nearly into August.
“That’s the big issue.’’ Is there any way around it?
“There are loads of ways around it but whether the GAA will do it or not.
"They have to do something with the inter-county season because it’s becoming the most important thing for counties, give your county team every possible chance and unfortunately while we have grown to a stage now it’s a little bit detrimental to the clubs.
“It’s hurting the clubs and it will continue to do so and guys will slip away.
“They slip away anyway and it’s always a challenge to retain players out of minor and that.
“But guys are going on J1s now, they are saying what’s the point in hanging around. I’ll go away, I might miss a round or two.
“I have seen it this year in Blackrock. There are four or five guys heading off this Summer so they will miss more than likely the second round or third round.
“But you can’t blame them for doing that. Society has changed, young people's perspectives are different from when I was younger.
“That’s the way life is now.
How to fix it ?” I don’t know, maybe something radical needs to happen. Ultimately it’s the clubs that release the players to the county.
“But it’s coming to a stage where it’s not sustainable long term.
"Something has to change, there’s ways around it but none of them are easy but for the GAA which is ultimately the community and the club and that should be the most important.
“There’s no easy answer but I think they should reintroduce championship hurling in the Summer for clubs.’’