Bride Rovers look to keep battling on two fronts

East Cork club face Blarney in SAHC this weekend after winning Imokilly JAFC last week
Bride Rovers look to keep battling on two fronts

Bride Rovers' Eoin Roche keeps possession under pressure from Ballymartle's Darren McCarthy and Luke O'Callaghan, during their Co-op SuperStores Cork Senior A Hurling Championship clash at Riverstown. Picture: David Keane.

Dual considerations at this time of year are not something that Bride Rovers are used to, but the Rathcormac/Bartlemy club are managing well so far.

On Saturday evening, Bride clash with Blarney in the quarter-finals of the Co-op SuperStores Cork Senior A Hurling Championship in Páirc Uí Chaoimh (5pm), with the club still on a high after claiming the Imokilly junior A football title last weekend.

Bride overcame Cobh to win the divisional championship for the third time after previous victories in 2004 and 2007 and, while hurling manager Liam Barry admits that it’s unusual to be competing on both fronts in October, it’s a situation he’s happy with.

“It is unusual,” he says, “but, from the outset, we encouraged the players to play football as well this year.

“One has helped the other, without doubt, and I think the players have enjoyed the break from the hurling at times.

“They had a great win in the East Cork championship and they have Urhan now in the county. In that East Cork final, 13 of the team that started are on the senior hurling panel too so there’s a huge crossover there.

“We’ve been avoiding the injuries so far and hopefully fatigue won’t set in!”

Bride came through a group featuring Mallow, Ballymartle and Ballyhea, with victories over the latter two putting them in a great spot ahead of the final game against Mallow. While that ended in a 3-9 to 0-16 loss, Bride still advanced in second place to achieve their first objective of the year.

“Without doubt, it’s great to be playing championship at this time of year,” Barry says.

“Our first target was to get out of the group. We had a good win over Ballyhea and then a very tough game against Ballymartle. Obviously, we lost to Mallow then, which was disappointing but we were still happy to get out of the group.”

The hard-fought 1-9 to 0-11 triumph against Ballymartle – the second year in a row that they had overcome the south-east side in the group stage – was all the more impressive as there was a long hold-up due to an injury to full-back Jason Pratt.

“It was a tremendous test and a great win,” Barry says.

“The game itself was a tough, physical game, what you’d expect from a match against Ballymartle.

“There was a 45-minute stoppage then for Jason’s injury but thankfully he’s flying again and back playing.

“Once we got going again, the weather had turned again so it was a very unusual game but one we were glad to win.”

That meant that there was the possibility of automatically advancing with a win over Mallow but the concession of three goals was ultimately the difference in Kildorrery. While Barry says that there was disappointment, the fact that the team produced a late surge was some consolation ahead of the knockout stage.

“Ideally, we were trying to win that game to maybe get a semi-final spot,” he says.

“As we’re involved in the junior football too, it would have been great to free up another weekend.

“But, again, our goal at the start of the year was to get out of the group. We were in a good position going into the Mallow game, it was disappointing to lose and the performance was disappointing – except for the last 15 or 20 minutes when we finished strongly, which was a positive.”

They will hope to bring that improvement into their clash with Blarney – one of the competition’s favourites – on Saturday night, with the Mid-Cork side having impressed in their outings so far.

While Bride have been replenishing their squad as veteran players from the 2008 SHC final appearance have retired, the transition has been managed well and Barry feels that the team is well-balanced.

“Brian Murphy announced his retirement at the start of the season,” he says, “so Daniel Dooley and Michael Collins are the only two remaining players from that team.

“We’ve a mix of youth and experience now, we have 18-year-old players like Edmund Cashman involved too, so there’s a nice blend.

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