LISGOOLD lost out on the opportunity to host the potentially attractive East Cork derby featuring Erin’s Own and Bride Rovers last Sunday and with the game being transferred to Páirc Uí Rinn, a lot of the atmosphere attached to these games was lost.
Games involving local teams, be it from north, south, east or west, have a much greater appeal when they are staged at venues in their own region.
Ground conditions decreed that the Rovers and Erin’s Own clash had to be moved and that was a pity because for rural clubs like Lisgoold, hosting a big senior championship match is a very special occasion and they take great pride in doing so. As things turned out, the game was a rather lopsided affair, competitive for 25 or 26 minutes until Erin’s Own cut loose with two goals before the break.
One of them, Erin’s Own’s third of the afternoon was a superb effort from Robbie O’Flynn and worth the admission fee alone, a real humdinger. By full-time, the Caherlag outfit had 14 points to spare and it was good, opening performance from one of the title contenders.
It’s been 11 years now since they completed a magnificent double in 2006 and 2007 and only Glen Rovers since in 2015 and ‘16 have managed to put back to back titles together. Over the past 20 years the two most successful clubs in the SHC, Sarsfields and Newtownshandrum, with four titles apiece never achieved that feat of winning two-in-a-row.
That Erin’s Own team of that time contained some fine hurlers that are still back-boning the side, four, in particular, Shay Bowen, Kieran ‘Hero’ Murphy, his brother Eoghan and Shane Murphy. To be still doing it at this level is a remarkable tribute to their enduring qualities and their dedication to the club high up on the hills above Glounthane.
You could travel the county since the turn of the century and you’d find it difficult to find a quartet like this.
Bowen made a stunning save last Sunday to deny young Brian Roche and continues to exert a great influence on this team.
Shane Murphy has for a long time now been one of the best and most consistent defenders in Cork club hurling, one who always leads by example.
The brothers, Kieran and Eoghan are the same, putting in the big effort every time that they don the jersey.
Eoghan has for a long time now been one of the best exponents of the dead ball in Cork and nine times out of 10 he will split the posts from all angles and distances. He scored a dozen points against the Rovers last Sunday and remains a constant thorn in any defence.
The ‘Hero’ is similar, always one that is capable of putting outrageous scores on the board and a great Erin’s Own man. You cannot measure the worth of these guys to a club and throughout the county you have players in other clubs putting in the same type of effort.
Just one example, Graham Callanan in the Glen who will be going out this season again doing the business. Last Sunday was a good start to Barry O’Neill’s managerial reign in Caherlag, a former player now guiding the fortunes of a club that is never far away from a challenging position.
Mention of longevity where players are concerned, we had another example of it last Saturday night with my own club, Castlemartyr.
Back in ‘97 and ‘98, Jimmy Smiddy played a key role for Imokilly in their two county title wins and won a county junior medal 16 years later with the club.
Back then he was a forward of real quality who is now turned goalkeeper in the red of the East Cork club. He lined out in Ovens against Argideen Rangers between the posts and did his bit in a fine victory.
He has been a truly outstanding servant to the club and another player very much worth mentioning is clubmate Adrian Bowens who has given similar service.
You simply cannot put a price on players like that and the clubs concerned are so fortunate to have them.
In the two games that we have mentioned, their course was changed by quick-fire goals which did all the damage. Bride Rovers were staying in touch with Erin’s Own until conceding two late, first-half green flags which contributed largely to putting quite a lot of daylight between the teams.
In the Castlemartyr-Argideen game things were effectively settled in the first 10 minutes when the East Cork team banged in three goals.
The platform had been laid and Argideen were game chasing thereafter.
In the only other championship hurling game of the weekend, Courcey Rovers had a fine win in the PIHC against Inniscarra and the story was very much the same. Sean Twomey belted in three first-half goals for the men from Ballinspittle and that was the downfall of the Mid Cork team.
In all instances, the well-worn cliche of goals winning matches and making all the difference rang loud and clear again. Next weekend the championship goes into overdrive with matches all over the place.
It’s a bit baffling really why a few more games could not have been played last weekend, just three hurling games as against 16 next weekend. Let’s just hope that the weather gods are in good mood and that the double-headers all over the place don’t come under threat.