WINTER might have arrived with a vengeance, but there’s no let-up on the GAA front, with county finals being decided and the provincial club championship gaining momentum.
The Tipperary hurling championship was the last to be finalised, last Sunday, with Borris-Ileigh regaining the title after 33 years.
Here in Cork, we took interest in their final with Kildangan, because the winners will have home advantage in Thurles, next Sunday, against Glen Rovers.
It’s always difficult when you are not coming into the provincial arena as winners of your county championship.
The Glen find themselves in that situation, after losing to Imokilly, and they will now be facing a team with huge momentum behind them.
Given that scenario, Borris-Ileigh will be favourites, but all should not be lost for the Glen.
They took Imokilly to the wire in Cork and if the focus is right, they are more than capable of getting a result next Sunday.
You have to factor in, too, that Borris-Ileigh, after a 33-year wait, might be celebrating this week, but, of course, they are a very good side that has proved its worth in a highly competitive Tipperary championship.
They have a fine balance, with a couple of 18-year-olds making their presence felt. One of them, James Devaney, top scored for them last Sunday, with a return of 1-4 from play.
Does that name ring a bell? It should, because he is the grandson of the late Liam Devaney, one of the great Tipp hurlers from a bygone era.
You have experienced players like Dan McCormack, Paddy Stapleton, and the excellent Brendan Maher backboning the side, so it’s likely to be a big ask for the Glen.
But remember, 12 months ago, Midleton, a team badly beaten in the county final by Imokilly, went down to Walsh Park with little or no hope, against hot favourites, Ballygunner, and proceeded to give a great account of themselves and could, quite easily, have won the game.
When you go in as losing county finalists, the pressure is lessened and if the Glen play to their strengths here, they could find themselves in a Munster final.
There is a strong Cork link to this Borris-Leigh team, insofar as the McCormack brothers’ mother hails from Killeagh.
The likelihood is that Ballygunner will be in the final from the other side, although Patrickswell might have a lot to say about that.
Ballygunner blew Clare champions, Sixmilebridge, away in Walsh Park and themselves and Ballyhale-Shamrocks, from Kilkenny, look the two best teams.
But in these provincial arenas, there are no guarantees, as we saw in Leinster, with the defeat of Cuala, from Dublin, by Carlow champions, St Mullin’s.
Cuala, of course, played the majority of the game without Con O’Callaghan and his loss was substantial.
But, as we have seen from the past, the club championship is a great leveller at this time of the year, with pitches not in the pristine condition that they are in the summer.
A result that caught the eye over the weekend was the defeat of Offaly champions, St Rynagh’s, by Rathdowney-Errill, from Laois.
The margin between the sides at the end was 18 points, another illustration of how Offaly hurling has fallen from grace.
Meanwhile, there’s a lot of hurling to be played still here on Leeside, in the under-21 championship.
At this juncture, one might be putting forward Midleton as one of the more fancied teams.
They were beaten in the best game of the year, in the final, by Fr O’Neill’s last season, but with players of the calibre of Sean O’Leary-Hayes, Garan Manley, Ross O’Regan, Sam Quirke, Tommy O’Connell and Sean O’Meara backboning the team, they must be serious contenders again. But it’s early days yet, in a championship that is being played much too late in the season, one that the Cork selectors are surely monitoring very closely.
Expect a late December date for the final.