AN interesting opening weekend in the Cork County SHC and that’s putting it mildly.
First and foremost the message from the champions of the past two years, Glen Rovers was loud and clear, they are ready to make a bold bid for the three-in-a-row.
Now it has to be said that the first round of the championship does not carry the significance of times past when it was a straight knockout competition.
At the same time a good start can put you in a very good place going forward whilst a damaging loss puts you under immediate pressure and lessens the margin for error going forward considerably.
A Glen team is never fearful of any opposition but they were wary of coming up against a Bride Rovers team that never yields easily.
History has illustrated that Bride Rovers are one of the most resilient sides in the business and, whilst they might not be a leading contender from year to year, they can still have a big say in the destination of the honours.
Last Saturday night they came up against a side whose focus was what it has been for quite some time now, a side that just wants to win as much as it can before some of the elder players drift into retirement.
At the final whistle they had put 2-30 on the board, had won by 16 points and Patrick Horgan was again the scoring star.
Conor Dorris was not far behind Horgan in the scoring stakes and Dean Brosnan was not far behind him.
Newcomer Mark Dooley registered 1-3 and it showed that any side with a number of scoring forwards are in a strong position.
How often do we see teams at all levels with a strong defensive unit but not so strong at the other end of the field.
Right now, after just one round, this Glen team are in a good place going forward.
Can you say the same of their great city rivals, St Finbarr’s, afraid not.
Their capitulation to Ballymartle was, to say the least mesmerising.
At half-time they had put 11 points on the board and led by three and had some poor wides.
The management would have been pleased enough with the way things were going and the message would have been, stay focused and keep doing the things you had been doing.
Fast forward a half an hour later and the Barrs were still on 11 points while their opponents had added 1-9 to their first-half tally of 0-8. What it all meant of course was that the Barrs had failed to register a solitary score in the entire second-half which lasted for 36 minutes because of an injury to one of the Barrs players.
That dismal second-half display immediately brought the inevitable question, when was the last time a Barrs team had failed to score in a second-half of a senior hurling game?
One hasn’t got the answer but it must have been a hell of a long time ago. It was only a first round, it wasn’t knockout but this was a very damaging result for a hurling institution.
Recovering from it might be difficult but one hopes not.
A lot of the pre-season conversation centred around Douglas and the fact they had secured last season’s under-21 title and added two players of significance to their ranks had them installed as favourites in quite a few quarters.
Fair enough, have them as a leading contender but making a club that has never previously won the title installed as favourites on the basis of two acquisitions did not make a whole pile of sense.
They lined out without one of those two new players, Shane Bourke and were minus Stephen Moylan and Eoin Cadogan as well.
That had to be a factor in their loss to Cork IT but maybe some of the pre-season punditry had an effect too.
They remain a considerable force in this championship but now maybe the expectation levels will drop a bit.
Cork IT must get great credit for their win and it showed again that on a given day a third level college team can put it up to and beat the best.
The other third level team, UCC had a stroll in the park against Carrigdhoun and, similar to Cork IT, they too have the capabilities to trouble any opposition.
Things change for these two sides going forward but both of them take great pride in playing in the competition and that should be acknowledged.
It was a very mixed weekend for the divisions but Carbery were a story on their own.
During the week there was speculation that they might not muster up 15 players for their game with Avondhu.
Well it was Avondhu who had the difficulty in the end of putting 15 names down on the teamsheet.
They did have the 15 at the start but got hammered by the West Cork team who ended up with 20 players.
Not a good day for hurling in North Cork but one has to factor in that one their main suppliers, Mallow were involved the night before in the PIHC.
They had no Mallow player on the starting 15 and that is entirely understandable.
Nonetheless, it was a good day for Carbery and credit to team boss Charlie Vaughan and his selectors.
And they lined out with just one intermediate hurler on view, the rest were all from junior clubs.
One divisional side with no such problems were Imokilly.
They saw off Bishopstown with great ease and illustrated that, by far, they are the strongest of the divisional units.
If this team stays together they will be a serious force in this championship.
Credit too to Bandon in their maiden voyage in this SHC. They saw off Muskerry in a high scoring game and that’s all that’s initially required of a team coming up from PIHC ranks.
And finally, the match day programme in Fermoy for Duhallow against Youghal featured a blank space in the Duhallow page.
It mattered little, however, in the end as they saw off Youghal with some comfort and Jim O’Sullivan had reason to be pleased with their day’s work.
It was interesting to see the three Cork boys, Anthony Nash, Mark Ellis and Lorcan McLoughlin leading by example for a division that does its very best for the game of hurling.