A QUESTION was posed during the week: when was the last time that all the city clubs won their opening-round games in the Cork County SHC?
In other words, when did the Glen, the ’Barrs, the Rockies, Na Piarsaigh, Bishopstown, and Douglas all come through their opener unscathed?
To be honest, I don’t have the answer, but it must be a long time, if ever. But it’s happened now and that can only be good for Cork hurling.
The few souls who read the columns of this observer must be sick and tired of me going on about the dominance of the East Cork clubs, Sars, Midleton, Erin’s Own and, of course, Imokilly. You cannot dispute facts, but maybe the tide is shifting back towards the city clubs challenging again for the top prize.
The Glen have been the exception in recent years, winning two great titles, in 2015 and 2016. Those victories were badly needed in Blackpool, and in Cork, because, for the good of the game in the county, you need a strong, vibrant city challenge. Even if all six lose their next games in the championship (though highly unlikely), they will have been energised by the events of last weekend.
Probably, the best result of the lot was Bishopstown’s win over Newtownshandrum. They have lost their last five openers. That’s not saying they were not competitive and they were unlucky on a few occasions.
But the victory over Newtown, admittedly a Newtown side that is now a pale shadow of their great years, will energise the entire club in the city suburb.
Youngsters need their adult teams to be going well and the only way that can happen is by winning championship games. By all accounts, those two mighty club servants, Shane O’Neill and Pa Cronin, did the business and there’s a hard core of experience in this side that should benefit them going forward.
Douglas, too, have had a few poor years, despite the potential in the team, but there seemed to be more of a hardness in their play against Bride Rovers and, again, their experienced players, Eoin Cadogan, Mark Harrington and Stephen Moylan, seemed to be in a more positive mood.
The team needs these experienced hands to lead by example for younger players, like Brian Turnbull, Mark O’Connor and newcomer to senior championship hurling, Diarmuid O’Mahony.
And, let’s face it, any forward line that contains Alan Cadogan, Shane Kingston, and Brian Turnbull should have a head start over many teams.
The Rockies and the ’Barrs had it all too easy in their games with Ballyhea and Carrigtwohill, respectively, but you can only play what’s in front of you.
The Rockies were in a final two years ago, the ’Barrs took out Douglas last season, so there are more positive signs in both clubs.
Na Piarsaigh had a terrible 2018 and everything seemed to go pear-shaped in Farranree. But the tide appears to be turning again and their win over a decent Killeagh will be viewed very positively.
There’s an experienced management team in place, too, and with the footballers winning their opening-round game, as well, there’s light coming through the darkness again.
There’s some real quality in the ranks, too: Eddie Gunning is one of the best club defenders around, Daire Connery is a player of immense potential (who will play senior for Cork, just like his father, Christy did); and Evan Sheehan and Craig Hanafin are big prospects, too, and, after the win over Killeagh, there will be a spring back in the step.
To the Glen, they got a nice bit of revenge over Midleton and they should be in the mix at the business end of the campaign. There’s a very good blend of youth and experience in the side and that win over the Magpies will energise them all the more.
And, let’s face, when you have one of the best forwards in the country in the ranks, that’s a great base.
Patrick Horgan is a class act and the Glen should be grateful that he’s one of theirs.
So, it was a case of not bad at all for starters, where the city clubs were concerned on the opening weekend of the championship season.