THE feature game in the first round of the Cork County SHC is surely the collision of two of the more recent winners, Glen Rovers and Midleton.
It’s a repeat of their third-round encounter last season when Midleton prevailed by a point and ended the Glen’s interest for the year. But that was then and this is now and Glen selector, former Cork great Seanie McGrath is looking forward to the game.
“Last season was disappointing. To give them their due, Midleton were good and they got to the final afterwards. Maybe, in some ways, we let ourselves down, we didn’t play as well as we could have.
“To be honest, even now going into this game with them again we don’t know where we stand. We have had an indifferent enough league campaign so far (he was speaking last Monday week).
“We played well enough in some games, were disappointed with others. We were very poor against Bride Rovers and they beat us very easily.
“That scoreline against them did not look good, we were short a few but we had a fair few regulars as well.
“But our fellows settled down well afterwards and we have got a good reaction and that has been very encouraging.’’
McGrath accepts that the game is not of the same magnitude as last season when Conor Lehane caught fire in a knockout encounter.
“Maybe, if you are beaten this time you can come straight back in. It’s not do or die stuff but we’ll still give it everything.
“It’s an opportunity to seek a bit of revenge for last year but we don’t really know yet where we are after the league.
“We have changed a few things around with the backroom team. Donal Cronin is doing the physical training now and he’s doing a great job, he has big shoes to fill with Ian Lynam but he’s doing very well and the players have responded.
“Come the game I believe we’ll be in good form but you just don’t know going into a first-round game.
“It’s early in the season, how solid will the pitch be and if it was June or July it could be a different game altogether.
“But we are where we are and we’ll hopefully acquit ourselves well on the day.’’
There has been a bit of a changing of the guard in Blackpool since the glory days of 2015 and 2016 but the leaders of that era are still on board.
“There’s no one really retired. Graham (Callanan) and Paddy Cunningham are there still as is Donal Cronin.
“We have got a bit of impetus with a few new faces coming in. Danny Morris has come in from the minors of a couple of years ago, they beat Midleton in the final, it was a great game.
“Robert Downey has got a few games with Cork and that’s a huge bonus. He’s really stepped up, a great lad and there’s no drama with him. Others might say the wrong thing but Rob keeps his head down and trains extremely hard. A very well mannered lad too.
“Simon Kennefick got a game with Cork too in the Canon O’Brien Cup, he got a few good points that day. He’ll go through the U20 ranks now and he’ll get time to develop. He has played well for us in league games and he has very good qualities too.
“Shane Busteed has come on to the panel as well from the minors and there are others too that we are looking at.’’
But it’s all about Midleton now on Sunday and the Glen selector is well aware of what they can bring to the table.
“A good side, they even won the minor last year as well. I don’t think their final performance last year was a true reflection of them.
“They started well but they received a few sucker punches and they got hit by a few goals from Imokilly.
“That set them back but they are still a very good side. Lehane is a top player, Luke O’Farrell, young Beausang, Finbarr O’Mahony at full-back, Tommy Wallace in goal, they are well balanced.
“We know them well and we know what they are capable of. They know us too and they are not afraid to bring forwards out the field, their half-forwards can switch just like that, stuff like that.
“Look, on the night we’ll be hoping our key players play well and they’d be the same.
“They will want to push on from last season and they’ll probably feel that they haven’t done that to the degree that they might have wanted since 2013.’’