PIHC: Castlemartyr looking to break through another barrier

Lower intermediate champions in 2020 and IAHC winners last year, East Cork side are still going strong
PIHC: Castlemartyr looking to break through another barrier

Ciarán Joyce of Castlemartyr is challenged by Ballinhassig's Conor Desmond during the Co-op SuperStores Cork Premier IHC match in Cobh. Picture: Howard Crowdy

Castlemartyr hope to have Cork star Ciarán Joyce and James Lawton available for tomorrow’s Co-op SuperStores Cork Premier IHC quarter-final against Carrigaline in Cobh (3.30pm).

Fifty-five weeks after winning the Lower Intermediate Hurling Championship with victory over Russell Rovers in the delayed 2020 final – and then going on to claim the 2021 intermediate A title – the East Cork club are seeking to reach the semi-finals of the third-tier competition.

Victory over Ballinhassig in their final Group C match gave Castlemartyr top spot in their section and manager Séamus Lawton is keen to keep the momentum going.

“It’s just over a year since we played Russell Rovers in the lower intermediate final,” he says, “and that was the biggest game in our club’s history.

“We went on then to beat Sars in the intermediate A final and really didn’t know what we were heading for this year. It just comes down to the old cliché about taking it game by game.

“Ballinhassig would be known to be a good team at this level for a number of years. We knew going into it that it was a huge test and luckily enough on the day, we got there.” Castlemartyr have taken each upward step in their stride, all the more impressive this year given that they were in Division 3 of the RedFM Hurling League with IAHC and PJHC sides.

“There’s definitely a difference in each level,” Lawton says.

“It was kind of a disadvantage where we were set in the league in that we weren’t playing premier intermediate teams.

“We had been worried about that, that we hadn’t played teams from the higher levels, but I suppose we are where we are now.

“It’s definitely a help that we have a few guys playing for Imokilly. Any match that they play for the division is giving them a high standard of hurling.” For players like Brian and Barry Lawton, Michael Kelly and – they hope – Ciarán Joyce, it’s set to be a busy weekend as Imokilly play Blackrock in the PSHC quarter-finals on Sunday. Before that, though, the focus is on Carrigaline.

“We’ve never played Carrigaline and they’ve never played us,” Lawton says.

“There’s no history there, league or championship, so it’s very hard to know and you’ve nothing to go on.

“We’ll just have to wait and see and do our best. Ciarán Joyce is a worry and James Lawton is a worry.

“There’s a couple that we don’t know at this stage – they were playing junior football last week and I think 12 of the hurling team were involved.

“It’s hard to keep it going week after week, injuries are the worry.”

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