NEW Glen Rovers selector David Cunnigham can relate to Midleton’s progress going into Sunday’s Co-Op Superstores county premier senior hurling championship final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 3pm.
It’s the Glen’s third successive decider, but on this occasion the 37-years-old Cunningham will be on the other side of the whitewash, having retired last year.
“We didn’t think too much about the draw because we were concentrating on ourselves,” he said during the week.
“I thought Blackrock seemed in good form after beating Douglas, but Midleton are a bit like ourselves in building away nicely and beating good teams.”
There’ll be few if any secrets with the Glen knowing what’s coming down the tracks.
“They have three or four players in attack who can all score and they all like a bit of space that they can run into.
“Midleton have dangerous forwards who can put up big scores and that’s going to be the biggest thing for us.
“Can we tie them down and not allow them be as free-scoring as they have been? We have the defenders and we back them.”
The Glen are a seasoned group with a nicely balanced age set, starting with Eoin Downey, who is still in school and playing Dr Harty Cup with CBC, to Luke Horgan (19) to elder lemons like Brian Moylan, Dean Brosnan, Stephen McDonnell and Patrick Horgan.
It’s been a slow burner of a season after losing heavily to Douglas in the first group game.
“Our preparation wasn’t the best at the start. In July/August we had a lot of things going on with weddings, Covid restrictions and we missed challenge matches and training. We had fellows involved in the All-Ireland final and some with the U20s, too.
“You try and get through your first couple of matches before hitting the ground running which has been our way since 2014.
“You simply can’t keep up that level of fitness from August through to November so we start slowly and then kick on.
“The experience came through because there was no panic and we went back to basics, training hard, getting a consistency, getting the attitude right and sorting out a few practical things, knowing form would return.”
It meant every game became knock-out against Bishopstown and Newtownshandrum, but the Glen coped with the challenges to advance.
This time 12 months ago they bypassed the quarter-finals, but not this year. Imokilly loomed large though the Glen won despite losing Hoggie to a controversial red card.
“It was huge to win without him. You’d always be worried when you don’t have him, but some of the others don’t get the credit they deserve for the quality of their hurling.
“Hoggie is a big game player, though. He steps up, gets the big scores and he’s the main man, no doubt about that.
“We were happy for him because he’s bailed us a lot so we repaid him by bailing him out for a change. Hoggie did nothing wrong and we’re delighted to have him for the semi-final.”
Sarsfields, who qualified automatically for the last four, awaited.
“I thought we were in a great position because nobody gave us a chance.
“Last year we were in the same situation and had been going very well in all our games, but Erin’s Own almost caught us and we were very lucky to get out of that game.
“That was playing in the back of my mind going into the Sars game. We hadn’t been tested 12 months ago and I felt it was a factor.
“That month-long gap, where you’re going from summer to winter hurling, can impact in being slow out of the blocks, for example.
“I think it’s nice to get the extra game and if I had a choice I’d take a quarter-final even though there’s a risk of losing.
“But, you’re playing every two weeks. Confidence is rising and momentum is building. Our aim all year is to win a county.”