Premier Intermediate Hurling grade in Cork never fails to thrill

Premier Intermediate Hurling grade in Cork never fails to thrill
Kilworth's Nathan Byrne clears his lines as Carrigaline's David Drake closes in, during their Cork Premier IHC quarter-final clash at Watergrasshill. Picture: David Keane.

NOT a whole pile of goals about in the four quarter-finals of the Cork County PIHC last weekend, just six in the four games as Fr O’Neill’s, Kilworth, Inniscarra and Blarney made it through to the semi-finals.

However, at the same time there was no shortage on the points scoring front, all four returning in excess of 20 points and totalling 91 in all.

That’s fair going by any standards and we now appear to have two potentially, cracking semi-finals on our hands.

Inniscarra are the odd one out in so far as they were the only one of the four to lose their opening round, going under to Watergrasshill.

But they have recovered superbly to be now within one hour of a place in the final.

This championship is certainly living up to expectations again and it’s another illustration of why it’s such a level playing field.

We have written about this before and why every one of the 16 participants at the outset would have quietly given themselves a chance.

Well now it’s down to just the last four and selecting a winner from that quartet will not be easy.

Fr O’Neill’s are favourites and that’s based on them being crowned U21 champions last season and having an attack that contains a few potential match winners.

But they are going to face a huge challenge from a Blarney team that overcame being championship inactive for such a long time to see off Valley Rovers In the process they scored 3-22, very good scoring by any standards.

However, they did concede 3-14 as well and that’s something to work on in the training pitch before the semi-final.

They have some of the best, young hurlers in Cork in the ranks in Shane Barrett, Padraig Power and Declan Hanlon Cork player Mark Coleman is a major asset for them while Joe Jordan is still a commanding presence.

There is definitely a nice blend of youth and experience in this Blarney team and their semi-final with O’Neill’s should be regarded as a 50/50 affair, no more, no less.

In fact, where both semi-finals are concerned, they must be looked on as just that, 50/50 games and anybody suggesting otherwise does not understand this grade of hurling where’s no more than a puck of a ball between the vast majority of the teams.

Kilworth survived the concession of four goals against Carrigaline and put up 25 points themselves with a great scoring spread.

There’s a lot of experience in this Kilworth team, none more so than goalkeeper Kieran Walsh who has been one of the club’s great servants.

Where Carrigaline were concerned, it was their third game in two weeks and maybe that caught up with them.

Of course, that highlights once again the lopsided nature of the fixture list. You play one game in April, then have nothing for nearly five months before three games in 14 days.

There simply has to be a better way.

Inniscarra’s win over Castlelyons was probably the story of the four quarter-finals because they had to deal with an awful lot in achieving it.

They lost a man to a red card and a number of key players to injury that included Cork star Sean O’Donoghue and John O’Callaghan.

They trailed by five points at one stage and it looked as if the gods had conspired against them.

But, as we have seen so often, adversity brings out the best in a team and Inniscarra, certainly not one of the big favourites at the outset, answered a lot of questions with this thundering display.

There are good individual performances forthcoming in all these games and maybe there’s one or two that might have something to offer to the county team going forward.

That’s why there should now be a management team in place who would get an opportunity to look at some of those players Anyway, we can now look forward to O’Neill’s against Blarney and Kilworth against Inniscarra in the two semi-finals.

Pick two from that four, not easy at all and a betting person should really keep the money in the pocket Maybe it will be an O’Neill’s, Inniscarra final but just as easy it could be a Blarney, Kilworth final.

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