BEFORE September 13, 2020, Lisgoold had never won the East Cork JAHC title.
While the club had claimed county junior B honours twice, making more of a breakthrough proved elusive until they beat Carraig na bhFear by 0-17 to 0-11 to become Imokilly kingpins.
Though GAA action was suspended after their win over Inniscarra’s second team in the county quarter-finals, they hit the ground running when the 2020 season resumed in the summer of 2021. Dromtarriffe were beaten in the semi-finals before they beat Harbour Rovers in the county final on August 7.
As much as a glass ceiling had been broken, there was little time to bask in the glory as they faced straight into the 2021 Co-op SuperStores Lower Intermediate Hurling Championship. However, county titles were like buses as another one came along quickly, with victory over Kilbrittain on November 20 earned them a spot in the intermediate A grade for 2022.
This time around, Lisgoold manager Mossie O’Connell is glad to have a ‘normal’ year to face into, but at the same time makes the point that they were helped last year by the momentum generated.
“The 2020 season was very short,” he says, “you only got going for a few weeks and then it was stopped.
“Then, we had to finish off 2020 in the middle of 2021, but that kind of helped us when it ran on into the new season and going up to lower intermediate.
“We had the East Cork won and we had the first round of the county done in 2020. We had to play Dromtarriffe in the semi-final last summer and then we’d Harbour Rovers in the final.
“We topped the group and we had a bit of a break then, which was nice, as we got a bye to the semi-finals and missed the quarter-finals.”
Getting ready to make another step up to the fourth tier of Cork hurling, O’Connell is expected a noticeable increase in a number of areas compared to what they have faced before.
“It’s going to be a big step up this year,” he says, “physically and tactically and all the rest of it.
“But the lads have responded well. We’re in Division 3 in the league and that’s kind of a mixed bag. Castlemartyr are premier intermediate now and they’re down at that level too but Blackrock, who we’re in a group with, are above in Division 2.
“The league went well for us. We got to try out new players – there are some younger lads up this year so we got to blood them and that was good.
“We’re in the league semi-final now against Castlemartyr, but that’ll be a different proposition.”
Two of Lisgoold’s stars, John Cronin and Liam O’Shea, lined out with Imokilly last year, while the club’s goalkeeper, Cronin’s brother Ciarán, was manager of the divisional side for the past two seasons after serving as a selector during the run of three county senior titles in a row.
O’Connell is delighted with the advantages that accrue from having players involved at the higher level.
“It’s a big help,” he says. “They really benefit from playing alongside good players and in the senior championship.
“For the last few years, we’ve had a few fellas involved with Cork and they bring that experience back as well, which is good.”
For the forthcoming IAHC campaign, Lisgoold have Blackrock and Midleton for company, with fellow East Cork side Aghada the opposition in their final group game.
While the strength of the senior clubs’ second teams is a variable that nobody can know until the games come around, O’Connell is wary of their potential as well as that of their divisional neighbours.
“They’ll have been conditioned to senior hurling, so they’ll be hurling quickly,” he says.
“Aghada are just back down, it was probably a toss of a coin between themselves and Watergrasshill.
“They’ve fierce tradition below there and they’ve football too, so they’ll be very fit, probably employing a running game.”