BARRING a draw and a replay, just one game remains in the Cork County SHC and it may be a case of saving the best until last.
The new format, in 2020, will be divided into two: Premier Senior and Senior A.
We’ll have more about that later on, but let’s just reflect on the season that will come to a close next Sunday week.
Imokilly and the Glen will, for the moment, reflect on a job well done in reaching the final.
The ’Barr’s and Carrigtwohill did very well to reach the last four, Carrigtwohill all the more so because of what transpired when both of them met at the season’s outset, in Riverstown, when they were ripped to shreds by the city side. Things didn’t go too well, either, for them against the Glen last Sunday, but they have provided themselves with a platform to build on, with some good, young hurlers coming through, like Liam Gosnell.
The ’Barr’s were not helped by the loss of three or four key players against Imokilly, but it’s unlikely they’d have won, given the quality in their East Cork divisional unit.
So, what of the rest?
Let’s start with newcomers, Charleville, who gave a fine account of themselves in seeing off Erin’s Own in their opening assignment.
They took the Glen to extra-time down in Mallow and could have won that night, if it wasn’t for the old Glen spirit.
They can consider themselves unlucky to be competing in the lower section next season and would have to be regarded as better, on this season’s evidence, than some of those who will be playing in the premier section.
Three teams that would have been looked upon as title contenders at the outset — Midleton, Blackrock, and Douglas — had very disappointing campaigns and didn’t justify their pre-season rating.
Douglas again failed to live up to their potential and lost to Sars, while the Rockies’ loss to Newtownshandrum was the biggest upset of the campaign.
Newtown’ ran the Glen to a point subsequently and forced the Glen ’keeper, Cathal Hickey, into three sublime saves.
Midleton were in all sorts of difficulty against Imokilly and trailed by 14 points, until they responded with four fast goals.
But they never looked like winning it and, after getting into the final 12 months ago, the season was a massive let-down (they earlier lost to the Glen).
Bishopstown will look back with a certain degree of satisfaction, having defeated Newtown and UCC, before losing to the ’Barr’s by a point.
They are deserving of their place in the Premier Senior grade next season.
Erin’s Own will have Martin Bowen back at the helm next season and they’ll be hoping to do much better, after losing to Charleville and to Kanturk.
Na Piarsaigh, too, came up very short when it mattered, against the ’Barr’s, and will need to be better going forward.
Overall, the standard has not reached any significant heights and the number of cracking matches was few and far between. But that’s the way it has been for some time now and edge-of-the-seat games are no more. Maybe it will be different next season, with the new format of two sections of 12 teams each.
It’s a case of nothing ventured, nothing gained and the competition certainly needed some freshening up.
You will have teams coming up from Premier Intermediate that have won nothing and how they fare out will be interesting.
A good county final can make up for a lot and we certainly have the two teams who are capable of providing just that.
The Glen will be going into the Munster Club Championship after the final and that’s another competition that the county has not distinguishing itself in.
It really is hard to believe that since Midleton won it, in 1987-88, that Newtown have been the only Cork club to triumph since in Munster and subsequently the All-Ireland.
That needs to change.
Premier Senior 2020: Glen, Sars, Barrs, Bishopstown, Newtown, Carrigtwohill, Ballyhea, Midleton, Blackrock, Erin’s Own, Douglas, Na Piarsaigh.
Senior A 2020: Ballymartle, Bandon, Bride Rovers Newcestown, Killeagh, Charleville, Kanturk, Fr O’Neill’s, Kilworth, Mallow, Fermoy, Cloyne.