Lisgoold and Castlemartyr close in on two county titles in one year

John Horgan gives his verdict on the business end of the Cork club hurling championships
Lisgoold and Castlemartyr close in on two county titles in one year

Lisgoold go to their fans after they defeated Harbour Rovers this summer. Picture: Larry Cummins. 

WINNING one county title on Leeside is difficult for any club, given the competitiveness of all the grades.

Now, two East Cork clubs are just one hour away from winning two in one year: Make that two in a couple of months.

The clubs are Castlemartyr and Lisgoold, the former bidding to add the IAHC title to the LIHC, which they won back in August.

Lisgoold had never won their own divisional junior A title in East Cork prior to last season, but after ending that famine, they went on to claim county honours.

After a short interlude, they settled into the elevated level of the LIHC and are now preparing for the final against Kilbrittain.

Castlemartyr's Barra O'Tuama is tackled by Kilbrittain's Philip Wall last season. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Castlemartyr's Barra O'Tuama is tackled by Kilbrittain's Philip Wall last season. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Castlemartyr will face East Cork neighbours, Sarsfields, in their bid for further glory and the potential is there for two cracking finals.

Sars might have failed in their bid to progress to the final of the Premie SHC final last Sunday, but it is still a huge achievement for the club’s second team to have made it through to the last day of the season.

It illustrates the strength of the game down in Riverstown.

With just a short break between the 2020 championship and the 2021 championship, Castlemartyr and Lisgoold celebrated their victories in the lower grade of intermediate and junior level for a short period and entered the higher grade fit and with a spring in their step.

And that bounce has now taken both of them to another final and provides both with a fighting chance of celebrating again.

Nothing, of course, will come easy for either in the finals, with Kilbrittain certain to be very difficult opponents for Lisgoold, while Sars will have a lot of experience in their ranks against Castlemartyr.

 Jason Hegarty fires over a point for Lisgoold. Picture: Larry Cummins. 
Jason Hegarty fires over a point for Lisgoold. Picture: Larry Cummins. 

Going back the years, Kilbrittain have always been difficult opposition for the best of teams in any grade and with the coaching expertise of Jamie Wall driving them on, it should be some East Cork, West Cork final.

SAHC

The main focus this weekend will be the second semi-final of the senior A championship, with East Cork neighbours, Bride Rovers and Fr O’Neill’s, going head to head.

This one is set up for one almighty battle, with O’Neill’s the slight favourites, having been in the final last season.

They lost that one to Charleville, but are back now where they set out to be under Robbie Dalton.

They will surely take the learnings from that one-point loss into this semi-final, but they will encounter a challenge from the Rathcormac unit that is certain to be huge, with the Rovers’ battling qualities always giving them a 50/50 chance.

If this one is not in the balance coming into the last five minutes, it will be a big surprise.

One thing is for sure: No quarter will be asked or given here.

Awaiting in the final will be Kanturk and their progression has been eye-catching.

They found themselves in a group of death, alongside Blarney, Fermoy, and Bandon, and to have emerged from that was a fine achievement, before winning in extra-time in the semi-final against Newcestown.

PIHC

The two Premier IHC semi-finals are loaded with potential and, in particular, the all-Carrigdhoun collision of Valley Rovers and Courcey Rovers will surely be one to savour.

The bragging rights are immense here between two traditionally strong clubs, both with battling qualities. Making a call on this one is a considerable task.

Ballinhassig could make it an all-Carrigdhoun final if they overcome Castlelyons in the other semi-final and, again, the likelihood is that this one will go to the wire.

This Premier IHC has always been one of the toughest to win, because you have at least a half-dozen or more teams with little or nothing between them.

All are rural based, with many of a teak-tough nature. That ensures games of a very high quality. Castlelyons and Courceys topped their respective groups with maximum points and are, obviously, unbeaten, which suggests another down-to-the-wire battle here.

Of course, in all the grades it all goes back to the success of the format of the championship, something that has been embraced by everyone in the county.

You really have to earn your stripes to be still involved at this business end of the campaign, firstly, in getting out of what in most instances has been a very difficult group and then progressing thereafter.

For some, of course, there will be a relegation battle to be fought and the preservation of your status.

Last weekend, you had Watergrasshill and Aghada battling it out to do just that, trying to remain a Premier Intermediate club.

The ’Hill, with a contribution of 1-12 from Shane Óg O’Regan, came out on top and there was huge relief in the club.

It’s a similar story for any club that comes out on top in any of those relegation games, because it could take a very long time to regain the status that you were battling to hold on to.

By all accounts, O’Regan’s performance was first class in the ‘Hill’s survival; a very talented hurler, without a doubt.

Yes, the hurling season has really come to the boil and the best is sure to come in the next few weeks..

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