BLACKROCK, Erin’s Own, St Finbarr’s and Charleville — that’s as tasty a dish as one could offer hurling fans who have been starved of action.
The quartet form Group C in this year’s Co Op Superstores county premier senior hurling championship.
For Erin’s Own manager Martin Bowen, the games offer an exciting challenge.
“Our group is difficult, but there is no such thing as an easy alternative. Blackrock are worthy champions, the Barrs with Ronan Curran back will be expected to come strong and Charleville were very unlucky not to be in the top grade last year — no doubt we will be facing three top-class teams.
“If this year’s competition is anything like last year, we will have a fantastic championship. Everybody enjoyed the format.
“To me — it’s very simple. As every team has three matches, there can be no complaints. If you are good enough you come though, if not you go out.
“Hopefully this year we will have some league games in advance. It’s obvious because of the Covid break that players at all levels in the game are just crying out for games.”
There were times last year when Erin’s Own did not look as if they would make the knockout stages, but having come through they produced a big hour to defeat Sarsfield’s in the quarter-finals.
Martin Bowen offers these recollections: “We got to the last four last year but were beset by such an injury crisis, that if we had won, eight players would be unavailable for the final on the following weekend.
“Thankfully, all have recovered and like all of us, they are really looking forward to getting back on the playing fields.
For some reason, we never started in our group games against Blackrock or Bishopstown and really only played well for about 20 minutes against Newtownshandrum.
“We certainly have to wipe out that inconsistency. Our best match was obviously the win over Sars’ when we hit form. That catalogue of injuries that we had against Glen Rovers completely disrupted us in the semi-final.”
Donal O’Rourke (coach) and Tony O’Connor who were alongside Martin Bowen in the dugout in 2020 have been joined by Paul Fenton and Michael Murphy in this year’s backroom team. So what of the team’s ultimate prospects?
“Anybody going into the championship will have the ambition to win it. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee from one year to the next,” said Martin Bowen. “My attitude is that you have to prepare as best you can and then maybe get a bit of luck along the way.
“We were lucky and unlucky last year in different matches, but over a season it balances out.”