MUCH has changed in the formats for the various county championships and it’s fair to state that every team now gets a fair crack of the whip.
In the now far distant past a team played its opening round each season and it was a case that if you were successful in that encounter you moved on to the next assignment but if you lost your season was done, no second or third opportunities to try and redeem the situation.
There are different formats for the championship in a lot of counties, all of them guaranteeing that your season is still very much alive despite losing the opening game.
Here on Leeside the round-robin format proved to be largely successful last season and it has all the appearances of being so again on the evidence presented in all the grades last weekend.
All the victorious teams, it could be said, have a little bit of elbow room going into the next series of games this weekend but, conversely, the losers have had their margin for error reduced considerably.
Another defeat and the likelihood is that your season will be terminated.
Every team will be seeking the maximum return at the outset, i.e. six points from your three games.
Last season, Blackrock, Sarsfields and Glen Rovers accomplished that feat with the Church Road team and the men from Blackpool going straight into the last four of the competition.
A four-point return will give you a quarter-final spot while in some instances just the three points, as was the case with Ein’s Own, was sufficient to make the knockout stages.
Na Piarsaigh were just on the three-point mark as well and that got them through too. Places in the knockout stages were determined by scoring difference in some instances too so, obviously, the more you score and the less you concede all the better.
It all adds up to a very interesting few weeks while this round-robin situation is being played out and it certainly keeps the pot boiling down to the very last of the three games that every team will play.
In the Premier Senior Hurling competition, the action continues this weekend with a number of clubs finding themselves involved in what could be make or break encounters.
For the losers last weekend that is most certainly the case and involved here are last season’s final participants, the Rockies and the Glen.
Neither could have had any complaints, Blackrock in losing to Erin’s Own and the Glen being well trounced by Douglas.
The champions face what could be a difficult assignment against Charleville and despite the North Cork side being well beaten by the Barrs, Fergal Ryan will be advising his charges to tread very warily.
The Glen will take on Bishopstown who garnered a very good point in their opening game with Newtown and that will put Ian Lynam’s side on red alert for a game that they must be far better than they were against Douglas.
In that game, they delivered just 1-4 from open play and for this all-city clash there must be a far better return offensively.
Erin’s Own and the Barrs will be full of confidence when they collide in their second assignment with both recording very positive results on day one. The ‘Barrs certainly laid down a marker in that game with Charleville, putting a hugely respectable 4-22 on the board with 11 players registering in that tally.
It was certainly a far cry from their opening game last season when they got hammered by the Glen.
It’s been too long altogether since the old trophy paid a visit to their Togher headquarters and whilst one swallow never made a summer, the result from last weekend will have provided much-needed energy for what lies ahead Na Piarsaigh and Carrigtwohill find themselves playing catch up after their losses to Sars and Midleton respectively and both need to be miles better this time.
The city side face Midleton and Carrig face Sars and it will be a surprise if it’s not another victory for both Sars and Midleton. Where Douglas are concerned, it will be all about building on their superb win over the Glen.
In this round-robin business, it’s all about being consistent from one week to the next and the momentum you gather from a victory must be capitalised on going forward.
Eoin Cadogan, in an after-match interview, stated that it was a collective performance rather than an individual one.
How right he was, defensively and in attack they did the business but it’s all about carrying that forward against a Newtown team that you can never be sure of.
You certainly never take anything lightly against them although they were probably disappointed not to take all three points against the ‘Town.
The main interest in the Senior ‘A’ championship will centre around the clash of near neighbour, Fr O’Neill’s and Killeagh.
O’Neill’s got a right fright from Newcestown last Sunday, luckily forcing a draw at the death. That outcome might have been surprising to some considering that when the sides collided in last season’s semi-final, O’Neill’s won by three goals.
But Newcestown are Newcestown, renowned for their gritty endeavour and making life difficult for any opposition.
It’s certainly a huge weekend for all the sides, in golf parlance a moving one, moving on very positively with a second victory, being moved out with a second loss.