THE cream usually comes to the top and where the Premier SHC is concerned, that is very much the case.
Blackrock will take on Midleton in one semi-final while it will be the Glen and Sarsfield’s in the other.
All four have earned the right to be just one hour away from contesting the final with the Rockies and the Glen overcoming early setbacks when they lost their opening encounters at the group stage, Blackrock to Erin’s Own and Glen Rovers to Douglas.
That put them on the back foot straight away and another blip would probably have been fatal.
But both showed their battling qualities; got back on the horse and are now very much in the thick of things.
The Glen probably more so because they were taken right to the wire in their last two games, winning by the bare minimum against Newtownshandrum and it was a similar story against Imokilly last Sunday when they were without Patrick Horgan for 40 minutes after a questionable sending off.
The Blackpool unit have sometimes been described as a sort of a one-man team which, of course, was never correct but last Sunday they more than dismissed that theory.
The ‘Spirit of the Glen’ is something that always comes to the forefront when they have to dig out a victory and that was never more evident than it was against the divisional team from East Cork.
The side will be further bolstered as a result of seeing off the three-in-a-row champions of the very recent past and it was a similar story against Newtown in Glantane when big questions were posed too.
Blackrock’s ability to score goals at critical junctures in games has been one of their strong points in their last few games against Charleville, St Finbarr’s, and Douglas last Sunday.
The goals in all three games came in quick succession and when that happens the opposition’s spirit is often broken.
Champions are there to knocked off their lofty perch, but this Rockies team is gaining in confidence from game to game and their defensive strength alongside their prowess up front will make it difficult for any opponent from here on in.
Midleton too have proved that they are worthy semi-finalists. Coming out of any East Cork derby, as they did against Erin’s Own in the quarter-final, is never easy, but they were able to do that when crunch time arrived in that game.
Sarsfields, of course, avoided a potentially tricky quarter-final game because of their excellent showing at the group stage and their far greater points difference.
There might be a suggestion of a bit of rust going into their semi-final with the Glen, but that won’t be the case and last Sunday they had a very worthwhile challenge encounter with Fr O’Neill’s.
Where the three beaten teams from last weekend are concerned, there will be obvious disappointment.
Given how well they performed at the group stage, Douglas could not carry the process a stage further, but they were very unhappy at the decision not to have been awarded a free just prior to Alan Connolly’s sublimely struck opening goal for Blackrock.
They will reflect too on a number of poor wides in the opening half, nine in total when they were aided by a strong wind. In saying that, Blackrock hit some poor wides too into that goal in the second half.
Douglas lost a player to a red card too as did Erin’s Own in the Friday night clash with Midleton and in both instances that did not help their cause.
The Glen were able to overcome the loss of Horgan and that was a major factor in their emergence. Overall, you would have to suggest that the four best teams are now left to battle it out and the only real certainty about both semi-finals is the uncertainty.
The Rockies will probably start slight favourites against Midleton while it might be a similar story with Sars against the Glen.
We could have an all East Cork final or just as easily it could be an all-city final, a repeat of last season when the Rockies came in from the cold after 18 years.
The Glen’s consistency since their 2015 title win has to be admired. They won that year and the following year before losing out in two more finals.
That’s very good going in what is a very competitive championship. The Rockies will be hoping to successfully defend the title, something that they did during their previous time at the top in 2001 and 2002.
Where all four semi-finalists are concerned, there is a fine blend of youth and experience and Cork boss Kieran Kingston and his management team will be hoping that now that we have reached the business end of the season, a few players will raise their hands a bit higher and provide food for thought.
And what the supporters will want is two humdinger semi-finals in keeping with the rich history of this great championship and with the four sides all containing good scoring forwards, we should get plenty of goals.
The time has come for the old championship to really ignite.