Sars v Glen Rovers: John Horgan previews the Premier SHC rematch in the Páirc

Clubs collided in the 2014 and '15 county finals, taking one title apiece
Sars v Glen Rovers: John Horgan previews the Premier SHC rematch in the Páirc

Sarsfields' Eoin O’Sullivan on thre break past Glen Rovers' Donal Cronin during the 2014 Cork SHC final at Párc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O’Hare

THIS Sunday’s Cork County Premier SHC semi-final between Glen Rovers and Sarsfields conjures up memories of two finals played out between the clubs in 2014 and 2015 with starkly contrasting outcomes.

And for once the well-worn theory that you have to lose a final before you win one was proved correct.

The Glen had high hopes of winning their first title in 2014 since their previous triumph in 1989 but on the day they were absolutely trounced by a far superior Sars unit.

The final scoreline made for a horrific read for Glen fans everywhere, 2-18 to 0-8 and on leaving the ground that day there were many who believed that the famed Blackpool club was further away than ever from ending a 26-year famine.

Richie Kelleher was team boss that day and a lesser individual would have walked away after such a shattering loss.

But the Glen great was never one to shirk a challenge and after a short period of mourning he got the ship off the rocks and 12 months later the same two clubs collided again on the final day.

Sars, for obvious reasons, were hot favourites again but this time the narrative was changed completely.

Sarsfields' Cormac Duggan is tackled by Glen Rovers' Gavin Moylan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Sarsfields' Cormac Duggan is tackled by Glen Rovers' Gavin Moylan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

The Glen had regrouped, taken the harsh lessons learned from a year previous on board and in a terrific display they turned the tables completely around to register one of their finest hours in their distinguished history.

The final score that day in 2015 read 2-17 to 1-13 in their favour with team captain Graham Callanan leading superbly by example.

A year later they retained the title and in subsequent years lost two more to illustrate that you never ever write off a Glen team.

Glen Rovers captain Graham Callanan with the Sean Óg Murphy Cup in 2015. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Glen Rovers captain Graham Callanan with the Sean Óg Murphy Cup in 2015. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Now it’s Sars and the Glen again and whilst the Riverstown club have impressed considerably in emerging from their group, three wins from three and a superior points difference to everybody else, they will be extremely wary of what could lie ahead for them on Sunday.

The Glen have made steady progress since losing to Douglas in their opening game and have shown real bottle in coming out on the right side of two one-point victories over Newtownshandrum and Imokilly.

The latter victory was achieved without the services of Patrick Horgan for 40 minutes after he was issued with a straight red card.

If there was ever an illustration of the Glen spirit, it was on that occasion when those who were left to soldier on really stood up to the plate against a team that was considered to be one of the favourites for the title. Horgan is of course freed to play on Sunday, a huge boost.

The two semi-finals on Sunday are rich in potential and the time has surely arrived for the old championship to really ignite and to provide us with two rip-roaring encounters.

Ferocity

This championship through the ages was renowned for its ferocity in front of huge audiences, especially so when the business end of the campaign was reached.

Up to this point in the championship the fare on offer has been varied, some very decent games, others not so, a few down to the wire encounters, a few lopsided ones etc.

But has it really caught fire yet like some of the games from bygone eras?

Sars have certainly been the most impressive side en-route to the last four and their ability to smash home goals has stood them apart. In their three group games, they raised 10 green flags which put them straight into the last four.

The Glen have scored five in their four games while the Rockies have delivered six goals on their journey while Midleton have four.

In their last three outings, the Rockies have struck for vital goals at vital stages against Charleville, the Barrs and Douglas. In all three games, those scores were defining moments and broke the spirit of their opponents.

Of course, in plenty of big games goals are not needed at all and a considerable points tally has been sufficient.

Jim Woulfe, CEO Dairy Gold with, Tommy O'Connell, Midleton, Niall Cashman, Blackrock, Daniel Kearney, Sarsfields, and Cathal Hickey, Glen Rovers, at the Co-Op Superstores PSHC semi-final launch. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Jim Woulfe, CEO Dairy Gold with, Tommy O'Connell, Midleton, Niall Cashman, Blackrock, Daniel Kearney, Sarsfields, and Cathal Hickey, Glen Rovers, at the Co-Op Superstores PSHC semi-final launch. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

SAHC

In the Senior A championship quarter-final last Saturday that was very much the case for Newcestown against Mallow when the West Cork outfit tallied 0-28 to manufacture the victory. In that competition the stage is set for two potentially fierce battles, an East Cork derby featuring last season’s beaten finalists, Fr O’Neill’s against the always tough nut to crack, Bride Rovers.

In the other last four-game the equally resilient Newcestown will tackle Kanturk, the latter having been involved in a cracker of a semi-final with the eventual winners, Charleville last season Newcestown, of course, were semi-finalists too last season, losing to Fr O’Neill’s.

So, what you have now in the last four are three clubs who featured at the same stage last season, O’Neill’s, Kanturk and Newcestown.

O’Neill’s will be hoping that what applied to the Glen in 2014 and 2015 occurs again, losing a final before winning the next one.

This Senior A championship might not have received the amount of attention and focus that the Premier one has but that does not diminish its status in any way.

In fact, some of the games have been more wholehearted than some of the ones in the Premier competition The prize at the end of the day is huge, an opportunity to be elevated to the top table of Cork hurling.

Of the four sides remaining, O’Neill’s are the only one not having had that experience in the past.

Maybe that will all change in the next couple of weeks but if it does it will have been hard-earned.

The time of the year when no quarter is asked or given has surely arrived for all those still standing.

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