John Horgan on Cork hurling: Slick Douglas and gritty Erin's Own looked the part

Three of the leading contenders for the Premier Senior county, holders Midleton, Sarsfields and the Glen now find themselves under pressure next weekend...
John Horgan on Cork hurling: Slick Douglas and gritty Erin's Own looked the part

Shane Kingston celebrates scoring the second goal for Douglas against Midleton. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

THE beauty of the round-robin format in any competition is that a negative one week can be turned into a positive the next.

However, if that is not the case and a second defeat in the quick turnaround will, more than likely, lead to a premature end to the championship.

An opening day loss puts you on the back foot immediately. Three of the leading contenders for the Premier Senior county, holders Midleton, along with Sarsfields and the Glen now find themselves under pressure next weekend.

Where Midleton are concerned it a case of the term ‘uneasy lies the head that wears the crown’ after their defeat by Douglas.

At the outset, it must be stated that the city team were full value for their victory and deserving winners at the end. Too few of the Midleton starting 15 impacted enough, they made silly mistakes at times and paid the price.

Now they will have to put things right against Newtown. And it goes without saying that team coach, James O’Connor will demand a huge improvement from them against a side that opened with a fine win over Kanturk.

To be fair, Cormac Beausang was in splendid form alongside Conor Lehane and rifled over some super points but the message that will be issued this week in Clonmult Memorial Park will be very simple: must do better.

Douglas’ management team will have been delighted but at the same time, they will be aware that one swallow never makes a summer. Their fine innings must now be replicated up with a similar display against Kanturk.

LEADER

Shane Kingston led by example in attack and was a major contributor. He delivered some sublime points, executed his goal with precision and on any team from the opening series of games, he would be an automatic starter.

Mark Harrington is now in the autumn of a fine career but he continues to roll back the years in the heart of the defence. His hat-trick of points in the first half were all gems and ultimately were scores of great importance from a great club servant. Alongside him, Cillian O’Donovan raised three more white flags and was a key performer all through.

The Glen lost their opener too last season to Douglas but subsequently ended up in the final. Now they must turn a first game negative again into a positive next weekend against Bishopstown. While they will be favourites to do so, they can’t be complacent.

Erin’s Own’s response to being a couple of points in arrears at the start of the second half to subsequently deliver nine unanswered was the big story of this game. 

A look at their starting 15 and once more it featured some of the club’s greatest servants, Shay Bowen between the sticks, Stephen Cronin and the Murphy boys, Kieran ‘Hero’ and Eoghan ‘Bear’.

Their longevity deserves the highest praise and to be still doing the business 16 years after being key to the 2006-’07 counties has to be greatly admired.

Near neighbours, Sarsfields have work to do after conceding 1-2 in injury time in their loss to the Rockies, who illustrated their resilience in the victory. Sars looked to have the job completed when they led by four points going into stoppage time but Alan Connolly turned the game on its head.

 Conor O'Brien, Blackrock, battling James Sweeney, Sarsfields, in the Premier Senior Hurling Championship clash at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Conor O'Brien, Blackrock, battling James Sweeney, Sarsfields, in the Premier Senior Hurling Championship clash at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Of course, it was a delight on two fronts for the Church Road team as the game doubled up as the league semi-final. As the saying goes, the Rockies killed two birds with one stone!

Sars now face what could be a tricky enough assignment in Mallow, against Charleville, who secured a fine point in their draw with the Barrs. They showed plenty of grit after it looked like the city team were in the driving seat, up by four entering the last quarter.

This group is looked upon as the ‘Group of Death’ and Sars have no margin for error now.

 Charleville's Conor Buckley makes a fine catch under pressure from St Finbarr's Ethan Twomey. Picture: David Keane.
Charleville's Conor Buckley makes a fine catch under pressure from St Finbarr's Ethan Twomey. Picture: David Keane.

I suppose what the opening weekend told us was that the format continues to be a success. Maybe it also told us that there is really no standout team yet.

Being realistic, a second loss for any team will all but terminate their championship season. They have waited long enough for it to begin and it would be hugely damaging to have it ended in just a fortnight.

So, we’ll finish as we began, the pressure has increased for some of the more fancied contenders, Midleton, the Glen and Sars in particular.

All three will fully realise that there is work to be done to reinvent themselves.

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