Cork club hurling: Shane O'Regan's transfer can be the spark Sars need 

Derek Daly looks ahead to what should be another thrilling Premier Senior Hurling Championship on Leeside
Cork club hurling: Shane O'Regan's transfer can be the spark Sars need 

Former Cork U20 Shane O'Regan has switched to Sars from Watergrasshill. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THERE is nothing like a ‘ Group of Death’ to ensure that the Cork Premier Senior Hurling Championship starts off with a bang this weekend, with Group C once again being the group most likely to set pulses racing and to generate headlines.

Last year, Group C was, without doubt, the ‘ Group of Death’, comprising Blackrock, Erin’s Own, St Finbarr’s and Charleville. These teams would have assumed the 2022 draw would be kinder, but for three of them it was not to be, and if anything, this year’s ‘Group of Death’ is arguably tougher, with the favourites for this year’s title, Sarsfields, replacing near neighbours Erin’s Own, while the other three must lock horns once more.

In fact, three of the top six in the bookies rankings are in Group C this year, with Charleville considered the side likely to be the whipping boys, which will be motivation enough for the north Cork outfit. Something will have to give in this group, and while you would have to fancy the Rockies and Sars to emerge, a lot will depend on how the Barrs’ talented youngsters settle into senior combat.

UNDERAGE TALENT

Ethan Twomey and Ben O’Connor lined out for the Barrs footballers last weekend in the victory over Éire Óg, with both impressing in advanced roles, but if the Togher club are going to progress to the knockout stages then they will require the pair to help dominate the half-back and midfield areas. Ben Cunningham, Jack Cahalane, Brian Hayes and William Buckley are others who have played for Cork at underage level in recent years and there will be a lot of expectancy on their shoulders too.

While the young brigade will be expected to contribute they cannot be expected to do all the heavy lifting. The likes of Damien and Conor Cahalane, Eoghan Finn and Billy Hennessy will have to help bed the youngsters in, and they simply must get a win over Charleville in Mallow in the opening round.

2020 champions Blackrock will be expecting to go close again, and with a star-studded forward line who would blame them. Sharpshooters Alan Connolly, Michael O’Halloran, Robbie Cotter and John O’Sullivan are augmented by the ball-winning ability of Tadhg Deasy, Ciaran Cormack and Mark and Shane O’Keeffe, meaning even if you manage to hold the likes of Connolly someone else is likely to fire. 

The Rockies will probably put up big scores in every game, so to beat them you will have register a decent score yourself, which is easier said than done.

Sars will be watched closely, with the transfer of Shane O’Regan from Watergrasshill potentially giving their attack a more direct route to goal, something they may have been lacking when losing out in the knockout stages in dogfights in the last two years. If O’Regan can settle in around Jack O’Connor, Aaron Myers, Luke Hackett, Daniel Hogan, James Sweeney and Liam Healy then they will take some stopping. The Rockies v Sars shootout should definitely be worth the admission fee on Saturday night alone.

Group B sees Glen Rovers, Erin’s Own, Na Piarsaigh and Bishopstown battling it out. You would expect the Glen and Erin’s Own to emerge, as both of the other two sides have been a bit off the pace in recent seasons.

Group A could be fascinating. It contains the reigning champions Midleton, now being coached by former Ballyhale Shamrocks manager James O’Connor, and it will be extremely interesting to see how the Magpies evolve their game with a new man at the helm.

They will be up against Douglas, who have firepower to burn with Shane Kingston, Alan Cadogan and Brian Turnbull up front, but with question marks always hovering over their heads with regards their physicality. 

Douglas' Brian Turnbull bursting past Newtownshandrum's Kieran O'Sullivan during the Co-Op Superstores PSHC at Glantane. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Douglas' Brian Turnbull bursting past Newtownshandrum's Kieran O'Sullivan during the Co-Op Superstores PSHC at Glantane. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

They will fancy getting out of the group, although Newtownshandrum are always there or thereabouts, and the Walshs, sorry I mean Kanturk, are going to be an extremely interesting prospect in their first season up at this level. With the Browne’s, McLoughlins and Brian O’Sullivan also amongst their ranks they are far from a one family team, and their physicality should trouble most clubs.

The divisions and colleges are hard to read. If Imokilly and UCC manage to get everyone on board then both could be title contenders but it is very much a case of wait and see with them. Avondhu have won three games already and with Stephen Condon, Mark Keane and Colin O’Brien in their ranks they could pull off a surprise or two, but they are probably just lacking two or three players to be truly competitive.

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