For Courcey Rovers, the 2021 season ran on into 2022, with defeat to Kerry’s Kilmoyley in the AIB Munster Club IHC final bringing their campaign to an end in January.
It was the only blot on a fine year, the highlight of which was the come-from-behind win over Castlelyons in the Co-op SuperStores Cork Premier IHC final in November.
Tadhg O’Sullivan was the man who got to lift the trophy and, while they are now at senior A level, which doesn’t lead on to a Munster championship, he wouldn’t mind another lengthy season.
“A long year is a good year, so that’s the main thing,” he says.
“We had a nice bit of time off – we had two or three months where we were taking it kind of handy when the league and the inter-county was going on.
“Definitely, in the last six weeks, we’ve been pushing it up, ready for championship. We topped our Division 2 group in the league and we’re in the final, though I think that’s not on until after the championship,” he says.
“There were ten league games there and that was good to keep us going.”
As if to illustrate the size of the step up, Courceys have last year’s beaten finalists Fr O’Neills, Blarney and Killeagh for company in Group B.
“You’re probably likelier to get one or two easier games in premier intermediate, whereas you’re not going to have that in senior A,” O’Sullivan says.
“The top teams in premier intermediate are probably close enough to senior A but every game is going to be competitive, you’re not going to get any easy game.”
Last year was the first with Seán Guiheen in charge of Courceys and it could scarcely have gone better, so little wonder O’Sullivan hails the impact of the Na Piarsaigh man.
“He’s great, in fairness,” he says.
“That’s a big thing and it gives every player a chance. Players who weren’t playing junior or intermediate are now after coming up all of a sudden and that’s probably down to him.
“If you have the right attitude and the work-rate, you’ll get there.”
Those attributes will need to be on show in Ovens on Sunday (2pm), with Killeagh providing the first challenge.
“It’s massive,” O’Sullivan says, “Killeagh is obviously going to be a tough game.
“They’re all challenging games, there’s no easy match among the three of them.
“We’ll give it our all and hopefully get off to a good start.”
In the other game in Group B, O'Neills face Blarney at the same time in Caherlag while Sunday also sees a Group C East Cork derby between Carrigtwohill and Bride Rovers in Midleton. On Saturday, Grenagh is the venue for Ballyhea and Ballymartle at 4pm in Group C while Group A's games see Cloyne meet Fermoy in Dungourney and Newcestown face Mallow in Coachford, both 3pm.