OVER the past 20 years the Cork County SHC has been dominated by teams from outside the city.
Since 1999 the title count stands at 14 for what you would term country teams as against six from the city.
Outside of the Glen’s two victories in 2015 and 2016 one has to go back to 2004 for the last city club to win the title when Na Piarsaigh triumphed.
That’s all in stark contrast to the bygone eras when the championship was almost the sole preserve of the city clubs, the big three of the Barrs, Glen and Rockies.
We are now down to the last eight in this season’s championship with three sides from the city in with a shout and five from outside. There is a school of thought that believes that all three-in-a-row seeking Imokilly have to do is to go through the motions to accomplish that feat.
That’s based on their depth of resources and how they defeated Midleton in the last round despite the latter’s comeback in the final quarter of that game. However, it’s not likely to be as straightforward as that and for the East Cork divisional side to take the title again they will have to come through a few potentially difficult games.
And it’s being disrespectful to the other contenders to be writing them off because outside of Imokilly you have some very good teams still standing.
The general consensus seems to believe that the title will go to one from Imokilly, Sars, the Glen or Newtown and that the remaining four, Carrigtwohill, Ballyhea, Bishopstown and the Barrs are much further down the pecking order.
That four are all in action tomorrow in Páirc Uí Rinn, Carrig against Ballyhea and the Barrs against Bishopstown.
When those games are completed we should have a far better idea how the two winners will fare in their respective semi-finals.
Getting into a semi-final would represent a great season for either Carrig or Ballyhea given the low base they found themselves at after losing heavily in round one. For the Barrs or Bishopstown, getting through to the last four would represent considerable progress from last season when the Town made their exit in round three as did the Barrs.
The Barrs haven’t won the title since 1993 and that’s hard to believe given their past successes and tradition.
Nearly all of the team that will take the field tomorrow against Bishopstown have never witnessed a title win in Togher.
Of the four participants tomorrow, Carrigtwohill are the most recent title winners after their stunning victory in 2011.
Ballyhea and Bishopstown have contested finals, the latter losing to Sars by just two points in 2012.
Ballyhea last contested a final in 1995, losing to Na Piarsaigh on a scoreline of 1-12 to 3-1 The ‘Barrs last appearance in a final was their last win in one, 1993 against Carbery by a point.
The complexion of the Cork SHC has certainly changed drastically since the days when the big city clubs ruled the roost.
In 1983 Midleton broke the previous decade-long dominance of the city’s big three and went on to claim five championships over a thirty-year period to 2013.
In 1990 Na Piarsaigh became the first city club outside of the “big three” since Redmonds in 1917 to claim the championship. They added two more titles in 1995 and 2004.
Erin’s Own also added their name to the roll of honour in 1992 before winning further titles in 2006 and 2007.
The mid nineties saw the rise of the divisional sides, with Carbery, Avondhu and Imokilly claiming four championship titles between 1994 and 1998.
The success of Newtownshandrum between 2000 and 2009 also highlighted the ever changing face of Cork hurling as they won four championships during that decade.
Sarsfields ended a 51-year famine in 2008 by claiming their third championship title ever. Between 2008 and 2015 they appeared in seven finals and won four titles while Carrigtwohill ended a 93-wait for their second championship title in 2011.
The current betting list for the remaining eight in the SHC stands at: Imokilly 4/7, Sars and the Glen 5/1, Barrs 12/1, Newtown 14/1, Bishopstown 16/1, Ballyhea 20/1, Carrigtwohill 25/1.
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