THE games are coming thick and fast now in the various grades of the Cork County Championship while the action on the colleges front is winding down.
Over the past week we were out and about getting an early insight on how teams might fare out in their bid for a successful season.
Clubs set off on the campaign trail with different objectives, for some it’s a trophy next October or nothing while for others the expectation levels are much lower with getting through the opening round uppermost in their list of priorities.
It was bitterly cold at Páirc Uí Rinn last Saturday night for a double header in the Cork County IHC with three teams from East Cork in action.
Sars and Dungourney was looked upon as a game of much potential in the opener but great expectations did not materialise.
Amazingly, this was the first time in over half a century that the Riverstown club were participating in this grade of hurling.
They were raging, hot favourites to win last season’s junior crown but they came up short in the final against a Mayfield team that later climbed the steps of the Hogan Stand in Croke Park.
However, the decision was taken in Riverstown to upgrade to intermediate ranks and on the evidence of last Saturday night it was more than justified.
They were the far more enterprising unit against Dungourney, a Dungourney team that lost by just a point last season to the eventual champions Fr O’Neill’s last season.
Dungourney were minus a few, most notably star wing-back James McCarthy but Sars were the dominant side throughout.
Four players, in particular, caught the eye, Luke Hackett (below), Rory Duggan, Niall McCarthy and Liam Healy.
Of their final tally of 0-19, 0-17 was delivered by this quartet and they certainly were impressive on the night.
On that evidence they would be one of the prime fancies for the title but things could change going forward and a few of the players involved might be lost to the senior team.
That’s the way it is with clubs with a senior team involved and first impressions are not always lasting but Sars were damn impressive here.
In the second game on Saturday night, Kilbrittain were hanging on for dear life against Castlemartyr after going to the dressing rooms nine points to the good.
It is to the credit of a very young Castlemartyr team that they made a great fight of it thereafter and, with a bit of luck, might have taken it to extra-time.
But it is also to Kilbrittain’s credit that they held on after shooting some poor wides in the opening half. There are a lot seasoned hurlers in this Kilbrittain team, Maurice Sexton and Ross Cashman to name but two.
No side will get past them easily in this championship and coach Peter Brenann brings a wealth of experience to the sideline.
Castlemartyr, without star player Barry Lawton, will take great heart from the second-half response but when you lose your opening game the margin for error becomes all that bit more smaller.
It was on to the splendid venue of Castletownroche on Sunday for the PIHC collision of Castlelyons and Kanturk.
Here we had two teams with plenty of quality hurlers on view and when Castlelyons trailed by just three points at the break after having played against a huge wind, things looked good for them.
However, when they came back out they failed to score for 22 minutes of the half and therein lies the reason why Kanturk progressed.
Anthony Nash’s long deliveries, when aided by the wind, caused huge problems in the first-half and his contribution on that score was immense.
He scored two points from frees, set up a vital goal and alongside Cork team mate, Lorcán McLoughlin, was influential in determining the outcome. Without Aidan Walsh, this was a fine win for a Kanturk side now managed by former star Donagh Duane.
For Castlelyons, the message is very simple, must do a whole lot better over the 60 minutes the next day against Fr O’Neill’s. By all accounts the best game of the round was between the aforementioned O’Neill’s and Charleville.
At the finish just the bare minimum separated them with the victory going to the North Cork team.
Cork player Darragh Fitzgibbon delivered 0-6 from play and that will have been noted by by the Cork management if club form is to be used as a guideline.
There is always uncertainty about first round outcomes and that was tellingly illustrated in the Fermoy-Kilworth game.
Fermoy, beaten finalists last season, came a cropper here against their near neighbours. Was this a surprise? It was to an extent but when these two met last season the advantage at the end for Fermoy was just two points.
Kilworth are another side never easily overcome and there will be great joy with this victory over their close neighbours. Noel McNamara fired in a hat-trick of goals, bagged three points as well in a splendid individual return.
Finally, this week. Witnessed a cracking colleges game last Wednesday between Mitchelstown CBS and Coachford CS in the Cork ‘B’ final.
Mitchelstown, coached by Anthony Nash, came out winners with one player standing head and shoulders above the rest, James Keating from Kildorrery with a return of 2-10.
That was almost matched by the 0-14 return from Shane Tarrant on the Coachford CS team.
Keep an eye out for these two youngsters going forward and it was certainly a hugely enjoyable encounter at Carrigaline.