THE Cork Premier Senior Hurling Championship has reached the semi-final stage, with the four remaining protagonists all having legitimate shouts at walking away with the Seán Óg Murphy Cup at the end of the month.
Sarsfields sat out the quarter-final stage due to qualifying from the group stages as the top-ranked side in the competition, and they would have been glad to do so considering that it was at the quarter-final stage that they were ambushed by neighbours Erin's Own in last year’s championship by 1-12 to 0-16.
The Riverstown side are now hot favourites in the bookmakers to drive on and win their first title since 2014.
There is no doubting the brilliant array of firepower at their disposal. They have the speed of Jack O’Connor, the goal-scoring instincts of Daniel Hogan, the sheer size of James Sweeney, the marksmanship of Aaron Myers, who has scored 1-33 in three matches to date, and that is even before we get to the likes of Daniel Kearney, Luke Hackett and Liam Healy.
In saying that, there will be some concern that they were never really tested in the group stage, as they easily overran Na Piarsaigh, Carrigtwohill and Midleton, and so have no idea how they will react if dragged into another dogfight, such as occurred last year versus Erin's Own.
If anyone is going to drag them into a dogfight then surely that would be Glen Rovers, especially now they've the services of Patrick Horgan. The 11/10 price on Sars suddenly seems on the miserly side.
Talismanic Glen attacker Horgan has been cleared to face Sars.
The Cork captain had a sending-off in 2014 against Bishopstown rescinded too.
The Glen have stuttered along at this times season, losing to Douglas on the opening day, before just about getting over both Newtownshandrum and Imokilly by the bare minimum. But another way of looking at that is that they managed to come out on the right side of two right scraps.
Simon Kennefick really stood up in Horgan’s absence, and if he can do the same against Sars then the Glen should have a chance, as you would imagine that their brilliant half-back line of Robert Downey, Brian Moylan and Eoin Downey will certainly be supplying ample service.
The potential clash of Robert Downey and James Sweeney will certainly make for interesting viewing, should it materialise.
Reigning champions Blackrock are next up in the betting stakes, available at 11/4, and they are looking a great bet at that price.
They were certainly slow out of the traps this year, losing their first-round clash against the aforementioned Erin's Own. They have responded well to that setback, getting over a tricky Charleville side in Banteer before thoroughly dismantling both the Barrs and Douglas in their last two matches, as they had 10 points to spare over both of their southside rivals.
They are anything but a one-man attack either, as they have options a-plenty in this regard. In fact, they are so strong that they can often utilise Tadhg Deasy off the bench for impact. It is extremely rare for a club side to be able to call upon such attacking resources.
They face a Midleton side who are the outsiders of the teams left standing, although at 11/2 they can hardly be labelled rank outsiders either.
They failed to raise a green flag in their four-point win over 14-man Erin's Own, and indeed only managed four goals in what did not look the hardest of groups. You would expect if they were to have any hope of upsetting the Rockies that they will somehow have to buck this trend, especially considering the Rockies have bagged nine goals in the championship to date.
Midleton have persisted with Tommy O’Connell at centre-back for the year to date. While they are clearly looking to solidify proceedings at the back you would have to think that this is your classic case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Moving O’Connell back that far has the domino effect of the likes of Conor Lehane and Luke O’Farrell dropping deeper, meaning their star attackers are finding themselves too far from the opposition sticks to do real damage.
The expectancy right now is that Blackrock and Sarsfields will shoot it out in the final, but none of us would be surprised to see a twist before we get that far.