IT'S a knockout tie in all but name as reigning Co-op SuperStores Cork PSHC champions Blackrock clash with old rivals St Finbarr’s for a place in the quarter-finals of this year’s competition.
The city sides clash at Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 2pm on Sunday in what will be a hectic afternoon of championship hurling. The six games to round off the group stage of the premier senior championship take place at 2pm while the six senior A ties have 4pm throw-ins.
Having ended an 18-year wait for a title just over a year ago, the Rockies lost to Erin’s Own in their first Group C outing four weeks ago but bounced back to beat Charleville a week later. The same weekend, the Barrs – who had seen off Charleville – met Erin’s Own and looked to have one foot in the knockout stages as they led by 10 points only for the Glounthaune side to seize a draw with a second-half comeback.
It leaves things finely poised, with the Barrs and Erin’s Own on three points each (scoring differences of plus 13 and plus two, respectively) while the Rockies are on two. Though Charleville cannot progress, they will still be seeking a win from their game against Erin’s Own in Ballyclough to try to avoid the relegation play-off.
If Erin’s Own do get the win, only one of the Barrs or Rockies can advance. A draw would do the Barrs but otherwise it is winner-take-all. The Togher side’s manager Ronan Curran felt after the Erin’s Own game that their chance-conversion needed to improve.
“We had 17 shots in the second half and had 12 wides, we were caught with two goals early on – that’s not going to add up to pretty numbers,” he said.
After the setback of defeat in the first game, Blackrock bounced back strongly against Charleville and manager Fergal Ryan felt that the win-or-bust nature of that clash stood to them.
“Absolutely, it was crucial as this was knock out for us and while the performance wasn’t fantastic, there were patches where we did quite well, and we did enough to win the game.”
The qualifiers from Group B are already sorted as Midleton and Sarsfields have both beaten Carrigtwohill and Na Piarsaigh. Their Páirc Uí Rinn will decide first and second place, with the winners in with a great chance of taking the sole automatic semi-final spot. Carrigtwohill and Na Piarsaigh meet in Cobh with the incentive of finishing third and steering clear of the relegation situation.
In Group A, Douglas hold the whip-hand, topping the table on four points after beating Glen Rovers and Newtownshandrum. A win or a draw against Bishopstown in Ballygarvan will guarantee them top spot, though they too will have designs on trying to attain top seeding and the semi-final place.
Should Douglas prevail, then the meeting of the Glen and Newtown in Mourneabbey will determine who joins them in advancing from the group. The Glen are on two points after following their Douglas defeat with a win over Bishopstown, while Newtown drew with the western suburb in their first outing and so have a point on the board.