AFTER an impressive run of championship wins over the past two seasons, Lisgoold hurlers are now eyeing up a place in the Co-Op Superstores Lower Intermediate Championship semi-final.
The East Cork club, who won the deferred 2020 Junior County only a few months ago, will meet Tracton in Group B on Saturday afternoon with both teams already qualified and sitting pretty on four points each.
Lisgoold's points difference is also superior to Tracton's, although they are seven points shy of Kilbrittain's, who are the Group A pacesetters also on four points. Crucially Lisgoold's scoring difference is 13 points better than Group C table-toppers St Catherine's.
As a result, all things being equal, a Lisgoold win should ensure them a semi-final place. Such an achievement would be very significant for a club, plying their trade at this grade for the first time in their history.
Interestingly since that aforementioned County Junior Final over Harbour Rovers in late summer, Lisgoold have had a change of management. Gerry Ryan, the man that led them to their first divisional and county title decided to step down after those great achievements.
The duo have received widespread credit for their impact on Lisgoold's fortunes and they are again focussed on bringing about the dawn of another county final day.
To date in this year's championship, Lisgoold have defeated St Finbarr's by 0-25 to 0-16 and overcame Russell Rovers 2-21 to 0-19. Meantime, their immediate opponents Tracton accounted for Russell Rovers by 0-19 to 0-17 the first time out and followed up by getting the better of St Finbarr's on a 1-23 to 1-16 scoreline.
All indications suggest that a really close match is in store this weekend.
Lisgoold selector Liam Walsh a renowned maker of camáns for hurlers in all parts of the county and further afield, says his team are taking their recent run of success very much in their stride.
"They are a very young keen bunch of players. Well over half of them are U21 and they have hurled together over the past 10 years or so at underage level, with a fair share of success.
"As a group, they have taken a lot of confidence from wins at local and county level."
Lisgoold succeeded Russell Rovers as divisional and junior county champions and Walsh accepted that his side had to show all their qualities to get over the Shanagarry based team in their last outing over two weeks ago.
"It was a really tight affair, derby-style hurling, but we had a great second quarter and that set us up. We led by four points at half time but nevertheless still found it very hard to get away from Russell Rovers. The goal scored by James O'Driscoll proved a big score in the way the match eventually panned out.
"Although we won by eight points, going into the game we would have been happy with a one-point victory.
Tracton are in the same situation as ourselves with two straight wins so it's a great target for both clubs to win and then likely reach a semi-final as a result. There was a lot of pressure on us against Russell Rovers, but I think that this weekend it will be different. We will give it our best shot but are obviously well aware that Tracton will be very difficult opponents."
Lisgoold's impressive run of form saw them claim their inaugural East Cork junior crown with victory over Carraig na bhFear in the decider last autumn. They quickly returned to action to overcome Inniscarra in the county quarter-final, before the pandemic again disrupted the schedule.
However, several months on the rhythm was retained as Dromtarriffe were ousted in the semi-final before Lisgoold scored a well-merited win over Harbour Rovers in the final, despite being without their main talisman Liam O'Shea who was suspended.
The same group also enjoyed a fine run of results in the East Cork football championship in recent weeks but fell short of reaching their first final, when losing to Bride Rovers ten days ago.
Now all the focus is on the small ball game again as the Lisgoold faithful point the sat navs in the direction of Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday for the 2pm start. The adventure continues!