Talking points from the Cork club hurling championships

From Rebel hurlers thriving in new positions to Kanturk's underage pedigree, Éamonn Murphy looks back at the second weekend of action  
Talking points from the Cork club hurling championships

Blarney's Keith Costello tries to get away from Kanturk's Ryan Walsh, during their Senior A Hurling Championship clash at Mallow. Picture: David Keane.

TWO games down and one to go in the group stages of the Cork club hurling championships. 

Here we look at the talking points as the leading contenders emerge from the pack.

1. KANTURK'S PRODUCTION LINE:

It's not a small rural club by any means, but it's not too long ago that Kanturk were promoted from junior hurling by the county board's expansion of the intermediate grade rather than winning the county.

That tied in with a period when Anthony Nash, Lorcán McLoughlin and Aidan Walsh filtered into the adult ranks and they lifted Intermediate and Premier Intermediate titles, plus an All-Ireland club crown, in the 2010s. Nash is now hurling with his parents' club South Liberties, in Limerick, but Kanturk constantly produces young hurlers for Cork underage teams.

Darren Browne wore Rebel red at senior, while goalscorer in the draw with Blarney last Friday was Colin Walsh, a dual Cork minor in 2020. 

 Brian O'Sullivan, Kanturk, eyes the sliotar as he makes a clean catch in midfield. Picture: Larry Cummins.
Brian O'Sullivan, Kanturk, eyes the sliotar as he makes a clean catch in midfield. Picture: Larry Cummins.

Ryan Walsh and Brian O'Sullivan were standout U20 midfielders in recent seasons, with John McLoughlin and Paul Walsh playing senior football for Cork and Daniel O'Connell midfield for the All-Ireland winning U20 footballers in 2019.

Aidan Walsh's younger brother Tommy was a dual Cork minor too, while Alan Walsh has Development Squad pedigree as well. All this despite the fact Kanturk amalgamate with Lismire as Wolfe Tones for some underage competitions. Indeed last season's U18 Premier 2 Minor Football final with Castlehaven is due to be completed in the coming weeks.

Special mention should go to Grantas Bucinskas, with his Lithuanian roots, who has emerged from last season's minor crop to take over the number one geansaí from Nash.

2. MIDLETON'S FIREPOWER:

While they were always expected to qualify from their group this term, Midleton have been ruthlessly efficient to date.

They put 0-24 on Carrigtwohill and 2-26 in blitzing Na Piarsaigh. 

This is Ben O'Connor's second season as coach, with Ger Fitzgerald as the manager, and they're clearly men on a mission after getting squeezed out in the 2020 round robin, when Douglas and Sars progressed at their expense.

We'll know a bit more about their pedigree when they face Sars in two and a half weeks, but their options up front are hugely impressive. Conor Lehane, with a point to prove after being omitted from the Cork squad this season, has 0-17 (0-9 from play) scored so far, while Luke O'Farrell has 2-6, and Paul Haughney 0-7 from midfield.

 Conor Lehane, Midleton, drops his hurley during the game against Na Piarsaigh. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Conor Lehane, Midleton, drops his hurley during the game against Na Piarsaigh. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Cormac Beausang fired over seven points last Friday night and Sam Quirke chipped in with 0-3 after missing the first match. 

Interestingly Tommy O'Connell, deployed as a midfielder or half-forward for the Cork U20s, is stationed at centre-back, while Rebel senior Seán O'Leary Hayes is their primary man-marker. Do they have the right balance? 

If they do they're more than capable of blasting their way back to a first county final since losing to Imokilly in 2018. Their last title was in 2013.

3. CORK HURLERS SHOW THEIR CLASS:

Not alone did Cork lose the All-Ireland against Limerick last month, they failed to perform at all. 

The start of club action was a welcome reprieve for the Rebels, even if some of them are being used unconventionally.

Corner-back Niall O'Leary wore number three for Castlelyons in their PIHC defeat of Valley Rovers but operated from centre-forward, deputising for another Cork hurler Colm Spillane, who has been plagued by injuries in recent years. O'Leary picked off three points and used his inter-county nous in the role.

 Niall O'Leary. Picture: Larry Cummins.
Niall O'Leary. Picture: Larry Cummins.

In Ballinhassig's excellent win over Ballincollig, Cork sub keeper Ger Collins had 10 on his back and hurled a lot of ball. 

Despite a few off-key shots for points, he took his goal chance with aplomb. His brother Patrick was as solid as you'd expect in goal.

Hassig and Castlelyons look well set to top their groups, with Kilworth and Watergrasshill respectively to come next month. Could we yet see them collide in a county final?

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more