CORK hurler Robbie O’Flynn is a major doubt for Erin’s Own in Saturday’s SHC opener against Ballymartle.
The speedy wing-forward suffered a hamstring setback in the league against Ballyhea and has been working with Cork physio and trainer Deccie O’Sullivan in a bid to get fit for the preliminary round clash at Páirc Uí Rinn at 7pm.
David McNamara, Erin’s Own selector speaking at the official launch of the Cork hurling championships at Páirc Uí Chaoimh last night, said the club have to be careful not to rush O’Flynn back.
“We’ll be giving him every chance but we have to be sensible too. He’s a big doubt and it’s unfortunate as it was a freak injury against Ballymartle.”
For the first time in 12 years, Erin’s Own will have a new goalkeeper as two-time senior champion Shay Bowen has retired with Kieran ‘Hero’ Murphy set to take over. The winners of Saturday’s tie will face newly-promoted Charleville.
“Shay has been a fantastic servant and ambassador to the club. He won back-to-back counties and has never let Erin’s Own down in any big matches. He’ll be a massive loss to us for his experience and class in goal.”
Imokilly are firm favourites to retain the Seán Óg Murphy Cup again this season and complete three in a row. They comfortably saw off Carrigdhoun and Carbery in the division/colleges section and have a squad loaded with talent including Paudie O’Sullivan, Seamus Harnedy, Bill Cooper, Colm Spillane. Deccie Dalton and Ger Millerick.
Last year’s runners-up Midleton will be strong contenders again as will Glen Rovers, champions in 2015 and ’16, Blackrock who reached last the 2017 decider, and Na Piarsaigh, energised by the involvement of Éamonn Ryan as coach.
Sarsfields captured the last two league titles and with Brian Roche at the helm again have a blend of young guns like Jack O'Connor and Eoghan Murphy and veterans Daniel Kearney, Conor O'Sullivan and Tadhg Óg Murphy in their ranks.
The eight teams who reach this year’s quarter-finals will automatically go into the elite senior grade next season, with another four club places to be decided by results going back to 2016.
There's a bumper schedule of matches ahead over the next two weekends after the football action saw impressive victories for champions St Finbarr's, Nemo Rangers and Fermoy, who shocked Castlehaven in their first game coming up from the PIFC ranks.
Cork manager John Meyler will be hoping Robbie O’Flynn and the rest of his players emerge from the championship games over the next two weekends unscathed. May 12 is the opening round of the Munster series, with Cork hosting Tipp in the Páirc before a trip to the Gaelic Grounds to take on Limerick seven days later.
They are still hoping an appeal to the DRA will see Seamus Harnedy’s red card against the Premier in the league won’t rule him out.