Premier SHC final: Midleton hope for an open game but Glen can grind it out

A rampant attack against a mean defence... one of them has to give in Páirc Uí Chaoimh this weekend
Premier SHC final: Midleton hope for an open game but Glen can grind it out

Glen Rovers veteran Dean Brosnan is ready to face Midleton again this Sunday. Picture: rDes Barry.

THE irresistible force against the immovable object?

Midleton’s tally of 4-64 across three group games was bettered only by Sarsfields and Blackrock, while 0-23 against Erin’s Own and 4-22 against the Rockies in the knockout games mean they have posted an average of 26.6 points per match.

In contrast, Glen Rovers’ average output is 19.4 points, but against that is a mean defence that has allowed a total of 3-68 – or 15.4 points per game, compared with 21.6 conceded by Midleton.

Tommy O'Connell (Midleton), Joseph Blake (Cork County Board PRO), Jim Woulfe (Dairygold CEO) and Cathal Hickey (Glen Rovers) at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Tommy O'Connell (Midleton), Joseph Blake (Cork County Board PRO), Jim Woulfe (Dairygold CEO) and Cathal Hickey (Glen Rovers) at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

In that light, the easy verdict is that Midleton will come out on top if it’s an open, high-scoring game while the Glen will prevail if they can make it more of a battle. Having beaten Newtownshandrum, Imokilly and Sarsfields in succession in such games, they are certainly battle-hardened and also possess the experience of playing in the last two finals, albeit losing to Imokilly and Blackrock.

The calendar has been heavily disrupted over the past two years, of course, and that probably helps the feeling within the northsiders’ camp there is no extra concern regarding the potential of losing three straight finals.

“In my head, that’s an outside thing,” says the Glen’s Dean Brosnan. “You’ve the work done and you’re not thinking in the last 10 minutes, ‘Oh God, we’re going to lose three finals in a row.

“In 2015 [when the club won a first title since 1989], I would have said that there was a lot more pressure, having not won one, than there will be this Sunday.

“It’s important for us, obviously – you want to win three out of seven finals [since 2010]. The challenge is the same as it was for the first one, win the Seán Óg Murphy Cup and bring it back here.

Having won it twice, it probably drives you on more to want to experience it again. The third final in a row wouldn’t be a mental factor in my head, anyway.”

They will naturally look to Patrick Horgan to lead the way on the scoring front, but Simon Kennefick will give Midleton something to worry about while their half-back line of Brian Moylan and the Downey brothers, Robert and Eoin, has been instrumental in reaching the final while Stephen McDonnell remains integral in the full-back line. 

Goalkeeper and captain Cathal Egan is likely to be busy if Midleton maintain their attacking threat but his early save to stop Sars moving five points ahead in the semi-final shows how valuable he can be.

For Midleton, the task is to replicate the Blackrock performance, when Conor Lehane, Cormac Beausang, Ross O’Regan and Luke O’Farrell all had attacking impacts. Sam Quirke has slotted in well at midfield with Paul Haughney while Tommy O’Connell is now influential from centre-back. 

Ultimately, manager Ger Fitzgerald is hoping for a performance, but he knows it won’t happen automatically, having experienced defeat already this year against Sars.

“It’s not just that we lost – and they beat us well – but we didn’t play as well as we felt that we should have and that was disappointing,” he says.

“That was the nature of it, they were very good on the day and we just had to suck it up. We kind of realised halfway through it that we weren’t going to get a whole pile out of it and we’d be in a quarter-final.

“We came back, we sat down as a group and had a chat and started preparing for Erin’s Own. We knew that that wasn’t going to be easy – Erin’s Own had beaten Sars last year and Sars had beaten us so our backs were to the wall.

“We had to perform against Erin’s Own and we had a very tough match. They went down to 14 and, often in those situations, a team picks up momentum and it can be difficult for the team with 15 to get going but we played well.

“We were very happy with that, it was a great victory for us.”

Following that with the Blackrock win has brought them to a first final since 2018, when Imokilly beat them.

“We felt in 2018 that we didn’t perform to our potential, so that was a bit of a disappointment,” Fitzgerald says.

“They’re great to get to but they’re not so great when you lose and they’re the ones that stick with you, really, rather than the ones you’ve won.

“Sport is like that, so you really want to do your best to maximise your opportunity and get the win on Sunday.”

The Glen have also shipped a loss this year, in their opener against Douglas, but have bounced back well.

“I don’t think anyone in the dressing room panicked,” Brosnan says.

We knew that we were still a good team and that we had a solid base to go on. You’re not a bad team overnight and we always had the confidence in each other to kick on.

“First was to qualify from the group – it was a bit like the old championship, where you lost the first match and if you lost again, you were out.

“We’ve been playing knockout hurling now since the Bishopstown game. The belief was there and we knew that we had the hurlers to grind it out.”

It might just be that they do so again.

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