MIDLETON will be without a number of players for their eagerly-awaited SHC opener against Glen Rovers at Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday, 3.45pm.
The game is a repeat of their third-round clash last season when Midleton emerged victorious on a scoreline of 1-18 to 0-20 after a keynote display from Conor Lehane and is one of the feature games of a very busy SHC programme.
Midleton were beaten finalists last season to Imokilly but will be hoping that they can go one better this time.
However, for this opening assignment, they must plan without the services of Luke O’Farrell, Finbarr O’Mahony, Padraig Nagle and Ian Kennefick for various reasons.
The experience of O’Farrell, who got married last week, and O’Mahony will be missed but a number of exciting younger players will be in contention for starting places.
They include Ross O’Regan, Tommy O’Connell and Garan Manley while the team will again be backboned by goalkeeper Tommy Wallace, Sean O’Leary-Hayes, Paul Haughney, Cormac Walsh, Cormac Beausang and, of course, star man Lehane.
Midleton mentor Ger Fitzgerald is looking forward to the game.
“Yes, we met last season again and we just got home by a point. I believe it will be something similar this time and I don’t expect that there will be much in it again at the end.
“We started sluggishly in the league but we have picked up and, whilst we’ll be missing a few players, we are cautiously optimistic."
The Glen, meanwhile, will be energised by two very strong league outings recently against Douglas and Blackrock.
They will be without Graham Callanan who captained the side in their county winning years of 2015 and 2016 while Donal Cronin and Mark Dooley are doubtful.
However, the tried and trusted Cathal Hickey, Dean Brosnan, Brian Moylan and Cork newcomer Robert Downey will all be on the starting block.
Young guns, Danny Morris and Shane Busteed are also in contention to feature.
Meanwhile, Douglas will be boosted by the return of Alan Cagoan for their difficult opener with Bride Rovers on Saturday.
He played his first game last week since being injured in his Cork comeback against Tipperary in the league.
His brother Eoin is likely to start at full-back with Mark Harrington at centre-back.
Steve Moylan will be in midfield while Shane Kingston and Brian Turnbull will accompany Alan Cadogan up front.