The John Horgan column: The race for the senior hurling title on Leeside is wide open 

The John Horgan column: The race for the senior hurling title on Leeside is wide open 
Ronan Crowley was on fire for Bandon last weekend. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

IT’S stating the obvious in suggesting that we are now entering into the most wide open Cork County SHC for quite some time.

That was probably the situation at the outset of the competition but it becomes even more so now with the elimination of the champions from the previous two seasons.

It might be stretching it a bit to suggest that every side remaining in the chase might be a contender for the ultimate prize on October 22nd but, at the same time, could you categorically rule any one of them out.

One thing that we do know at the juncture is that there will be an East Cork team in the final, nothing new there I suppose.

The draw for the quarter-finals has pitted Midleton against Sarsfields and Erin’s Own against Imokilly with the two winners colliding for a place in the final.

All four of that East Cork contingent have to be realistic title contenders although Erin’s Own boss Martin Bowen was at pains to stress in the aftermath of their win over Duhallow on Sunday night that a considerable improvement will need to be forthcoming if they are going to live with Imokilly.

Not surprisingly, Imokilly are the last divisional side standing and they are sparing no effort in pursuing the big prize.

It has not been a very distinguished campaign for the rest of the divisional units, giving more food for thought to those who might suggest that they should no longer be participating in the competition.

Imokilly are the exception and in the past number of days they have played two challenge games against Oulart-the-Ballagh from Wexford and Kilmallock and on each occasion, they had depth in numbers in their squad.

Erin’s Own will have to be at their very best against them but being forewarned is forearmed.

The big story of the past few days, of course, was the elimination of Glen Rovers by their arch rivals from up the road in Farranree.

They have been magnificent champions for the past two years and to contest three finals on the trot and to come back from the trouncing that they got in the first one speaks volumes for their contribution.

But a new light now shines on the northside with that particular torch having been passed to Na Piarsaigh.

They deserved their slimmest of wins last Saturday night although if another installment had been the case, there would not have been a dissenting voice.

But the referee is the final arbitrator and the victory belonged to Na Piarsaigh after their final point in the 67th minute.

Dayne Lee, Na Piarsaigh, challenged by Stephen McDonnell, David Dooling and Graham Callanan, Glen Rovers. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Dayne Lee, Na Piarsaigh, challenged by Stephen McDonnell, David Dooling and Graham Callanan, Glen Rovers. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Quite rightly, Piarsaigh were delighted but it was pointed out to them afterward by the very gracious Glen boss Richie Kelleher that the victory will be downgraded considerably if they don’t push on now and try to secure the trophy that has rested in Blackpool for the past few seasons.

There is a great level headedness in the Piarsaigh camp and their boss Stephen O’Sullivan uttered the thoughts of his Glen counterpart.

Now they have Bandon for company in the last eight game and it’s fair to say that they have been the story of the championship thus far.

There’s a vast step-up from premier intermediate to senior but they have more than justified themselves since their elevation and this will be a very formidable hurdle for the city team to overcome.

In fact of the eight sides that played SHC over the weekend, they were probably the most impressive.

Back to Na Piarsaigh, they did their job very efficiently against the Glen a in a game that had no real flow to it for long spells and it was too much of a stop, start game.

Padraig Guest was their hero when all the cards were on the table and full credit to this young man for the manner with which he slung over that last free.

It was a highly pressurized situation but he never flinched.

Are Piarsaigh good enough to win it out? Who knows but defeating the defending champions will have done tons for the confidence levels.

But the emphatic message in Farranree must be, this cannot be a one off victory and defeating the champions guarantees you nothing going forward.

So on we go in a championship that the only certainty is the uncertainty. In fact, it is very much a lottery.

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