Midleton and Erin's Own has the potential to ignite the Cork hurling championship

Midleton and Erin's Own has the potential to ignite the Cork hurling championship
Killeagh's David Cahill reaches for the sliotar against Erin's Own. Picture: Andy Jay

John Horgan

Hurling

THE Cork County SHC moved another step forward at the weekend with six winners and six losers but nobody has been eliminated yet.

That will change in the next stage of the process when all the losers of the 2B games will have their interest in the competition terminated.

The opposite will be the case in the 2A games with the losers there getting another opportunity which, obviously, diminishes the status of those games to a certain degree.

So, if one is looking for a bit more cut and thrust in those two sections of Round 2 the suggestion for a neutral might be, attend one of the 2B games when there is going to be far more at stake.

There are still many who believe that it should be a straight knockout competition as it once was, one strike and you are out.

The older generation would certainly be thinking along those lines and maybe they have a point because with the format now in place all competitions across the GAA landscape things don’t get serious until it’s a winner take all situation and the loser is out.

But those days are gone forever and like it or not that’s the way it is.

So let’s look at the line-up for some of those Round 2A and 2B games.

Potentially, the game of Round 2A is the meeting of Midleton and Erin's Own, two of the more fancied teams in the competition.

Midleton will be happy with their win over Carrigtwohill but not overly happy with the performance, particularly in the first-half.

A return of just six points in that period was poor and just two of those came from open play.

In fact, Carrigtwohill were the better side in that half and in full-forward Darren O' Driscoll they had a very troublesome attacker who ended the game as one of the far better players on the pitch.

Still, it was job done for Midleton with a clear message, will have to be better overall in the next game.

Midleton's James Nagle wins the ball from Carrigtwohill's Sean Rohan.Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Midleton's James Nagle wins the ball from Carrigtwohill's Sean Rohan.Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Erin's Own, after their win over Killeagh, will probably believe that they too can get better and of course this clash is a repeat of last season’s semi-final which Erin's Own won by a point.

This could be a belter of a game but again it’s not knockout.

Sarsfields haven’t much time to reflect on their win over the Glen and they are back in action next Sunday against Duhallow.

They’ll be favourites here but, similar to all divisional teams, they’ll be wary of the potential of Duhallow.

Imokilly and UCC go head to head too next Sunday night in another potentially very good game.

Imokilly are being talked up quite a lot this season and are considered genuine title contenders.

In the corresponding game last season, Imokilly had an easy win and they’ll be the fancy again this time.

The standout game in Round 2B is the collision of the Glen and the ‘Barrs, a game to evoke memories of days long gone.

To stress again, the loser here will have their championship season terminated and that will add a lot more of an edge to the game.

The Barrs failed to score in the second-half of their first round encounter with Ballymartle and that was one of their darkest championship hours.

Now it’s a sighting of a Glen jersey and the expectation is for a backlash. It may, or may not be good enough but it’s badly wanted.

Glen Rovers' Mark Dooley and Sarsfields' Craig Leahy tussle for the ball during the Cork SHC at Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Glen Rovers' Mark Dooley and Sarsfields' Craig Leahy tussle for the ball during the Cork SHC at Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Bandon and Carrigtwohill are under a bit of pressure now after opening day losses to the Rockies and Midleton so the margin for error here is now considerably reduced.

It’s a similar scenario with Killeagh and Douglas, Bishopstown and Ballyhea, Avondhu and Bride Rovers and Newtown and Youghal.

These are all knockout games, the safety net is now removed for those clubs and that heightens their appeal.

One of the most significant wins over the weekend was Na Piarsaigh’s two points to spare over Newtown.

The Farranree outfit were in the relegation doldrums last season and if ever a club needed a result like this, this was it.

Now they will believe that they can progress further against Carbery.

So what have we learned thus far? Not a whole pile really and that will remain the case until it’s just knockout in all the games.

The Glen lost out to Ballymartle in 2015 in their opener but ended the season as champions.

Being a man down for so long last Sunday against Sars certainly militated against them and they’ll believe that their battle hardness will bring them to the forefront again when it matters.

Sars, Midleton, Imokilly, Erin's Own and Douglas are the other perceived contenders and it will be a surprise if the October winner does not come from that sextet.

Hopefully, we’ll get lift-off in the coming weeks when it will be all or nothing on the table with all safety nets removed.

Finally, this week and this is a topic that colleague Denis Hurley is tired from writing about and that’s the numbering on jerseys.

This applies at inter-county level as well, you cannot identify the numbers on the back of teams jerseys.

Here in Cork we have numerous clubs where it’s very difficult to make out a nine from an eight, a 10 from a 12 and so on.

Surely, in this day and age, it’s not a whole pile to ask to be able to identify players with their numbering.

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