Cork clubs ready for their close-ups as TG4 screens opening rounds of the hurling championship

Cork clubs ready for their close-ups as TG4 screens opening rounds of the hurling championship
Bishopstown's Mark Driscoll racing out of defence with the ball chased by Midleton's Cormac Walsh. Picture: Denis Minihane.

JUST in case they're not aware of it, the hurlers from Midleton, Bishopstown, Carrigtwohill and Blackrock better be prepared for a certain level of invasion of their privacy at Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday.

That's because they'll be featured live on TG4, when the county senior championship first round continues with a double-header, starting with the Magpies-Town encounter at 2pm, followed by the Carrig-Rockies tie at 3.45pm.

It's the third successive weekend of club games being shown by the local broadcaster, who have developed a well-earned reputation for their general sports' coverage, but particularly Gaelic football and hurling, in recent years.

TG4 started in the capital a couple of weeks ago by showing Dean Rock's Ballymun Kickhams overcome St Brigid's and Kilmacud Crokes get the better of Ballyboden St Enda's in the Dublin senior football championship.

Last weekend it was hurling's turn on Shannonside. Limerick and Munster champions, Na Piarsaigh, were too strong for Doon as were Kilmallock against Ballybrown.

The cameras were also at Pearse Stadium in Galway for the city derby between champions Liam Mellows and Castlegar, a game dictated by a strong wind blowing down the pitch.

That was the most competitive game to-date with the holders showing their class in the second-half to win by a couple of goals at the finish.

The others, I'm afraid, were too one-sided to be interesting and played in front of very small crowds which produced little or no atmosphere.

That's to be expected for the time of year, however. First-round games in either a round-robin format or championships with a back-door route rarely offer a cutting edge associated with the intensity of do-or-die games.

The pattern is likely to continue on Sunday. Midleton and Bishopstown have got to know each other well given their frequent championship meetings and maybe the cameras might encourage the pair to raise the stakes a bit.

Neither the Rockies nor Carrigtwohill have set the world alight in the Red FM league with just one win from a dozen games between the pair, so expectations aren't too high for the moment though the city club certainly have the material to build on last season, when they reached the final, where they lost to Imokilly.

Mention of Dublin All-Ireland winner Rock, brings to mind a recent interview in which he praised manager Jim Gavin's approach to releasing county players back to their clubs.

The three-time Sam Maguire Cup winning boss didn't need a Croke Park announcement about April being a club-only month because it has been Gavin's policy to do just that anyway once the league is completed.

The Dublin supremo is happy to allow the players do all their gym sessions and on-pitch training with their clubs to such an extent that there's no communication between player and county-management.

Rock, who helped himself to 1-10 for Ballymun Kickhams, reckoned the break from the inter-county scene has played a big part in Dublin's success.

“I can only speak from my own perspective and our team's perspective, that it's been hugely healthy for us,” Rock told GAA.ie.

““Just even from a mental perspective it's good to have that change of gear from county to club for training.

“Certainly it's worked for us in the past where we've come back and everyone has come back really hungry and really mad for work and mad for championship prep.”

Rock regards it as a "huge privilege" to play for Ballymun Kickhams and makes the point that none of the Dublin players would have made it to the top of the inter-county game were it not for the support and guidance of their clubs.

Cork coach, Ronan McCarthy, made the same point as Rock after the end of their division 2 campaign, basically saying it was beneficial for players and management to take a break before reconvening for championship, which is about to come closer into view, notably hurling.

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