THE divisions/colleges section of the Cork County senior hurling and football championships have been run off without any real fuss or any great surprises either.
As expected, Imokilly and UCC came through the hurling side of things and now join the clubs in the main championship just as they did last season while in football it was UCC and Duhallow.
Imokilly put up a handy tally of 55 points in their victories over Carrigdhoun and Carbery and one could say without too much fear of being contradicted that they weren’t on full power in either game.
That’s not being disrespectful to the teams that they defeated but it’s also the reality of it.
Those straightforward victories have made them even stronger favourites to complete a hat-trick of titles in the Autumn.
Imokilly are similar in many respects to Limerick, they have the depth of resources that others don’t possess.
In the two games that they have played, they were without Colm Spillane and Will Leahy while Niall O’Leary has taken up residence up the ‘Dyke with UCC.
Being without three such influential players, three that played key roles last season and the one before that would surely have adversely affected any other team.
But not, it seems, with Imokilly.
This column has often been asked why are Imokilly so strong and the rest of the divisions so weak, all the more so because there are hurlers just as good in the other divisions as there are in Imokilly.
In fact, in a perfect world, every divisional unit should be challenging at the top end of the senior hurling scale.
The difference is three-fold really, the players that represent Imokilly want to do so, their clubs have no problem in allowing them doing that and last but certainly not least there’s a backroom team in place that they want to play for as well, one whose organisation is second to none. Led by team boss Fergal Condon.
Imokilly are back into pre-season training before some clubs, distance is not a problem in organising challenge games and there’s never less than 20 involved in those challenge games.
When previewing some of those divisional games over the last number of years we have often heard of no preparation being put in at all by some units.
That’s a pity really because there are good hurlers in Avondhu, Duhallow, Carrigdhoun, Carbery etc and in Seandun too.
Going forward now there are no guarantees that Imokilly will retain the title again.
They are entitled to be favourites but they are up there now to be shot at, even more so than last year.
Three-in-a-row has proved to be a bridge too far for any team since the ‘Barrs of ‘80, ‘81 and ‘82.
Even retaining the title was beyond two of the best club teams we have seen in the recent era, Newtownshandrum and Sars.
The Glen did, of course, in 2015 and 2016 and for that, they deserve fantastic credit, all the more so because of what had previously happened in 2014 when they got trounced by Sars, to the tune of 2-16 to 0-8.
A lesser bunch of players might never have recovered from that drubbing.
Erin’s Own won it two years running in 2006 and 2007, the Rockies in 2001 and 2002 and Midleton did it in ‘86 and ‘87.
This is the second time that Imokilly are trying for the three on the trot, failing in ‘99 after being successful in ‘97 and ‘98.
UCC came through the colleges/divisions section too without too much bother and, in a perfect world, they should be challenging for the top honour as well.
They got to a semi-final last season but fell apart in the second-half against Imokilly.
They cannot be as organised as the likes of Imokilly because of exams and other commitments, Summer time work etc but at all times they want to compete and take pride in doing so.
Now themselves and Imokilly join the clubs again and it will be very interesting to monitor them on that journey.
Can Imokilly remain at the helm, can UCC bridge a gap going back to 1970?