John Horgan on hurling: Barrs are back but what next for relegated Na Piarsaigh

Premier Senior Hurling semis are set but northside powerhouse Piarsaighs drop to Senior A
John Horgan on hurling: Barrs are back but what next for relegated Na Piarsaigh

Na Piarsaigh's Eoin Moynihan shoots from Erin's Own's Sam Guilfoyle last month at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

SO many things to digest from the weekend of hurling, one of highs and lows, joy and heartbreak, a penalty shootout and the utter despair of losing your status.

Where the latter is concerned, the story of Na Piarsaigh being relegated from the top tier of Cork club hurling is one of great sadness.

The proud Northside club have produced some of the greatest players ever to don a Cork jersey, and have been proud county champions on a number of memorable occasions.

Unfortunately, in more recent times the struggles that a lot of clubs experience have become more acute, victories have been difficult to come by and the axe finally fell last Saturday when they came up very short against Charleville in the relegation decider.

The same story applied to Ballymartle and Youghal as they lost out in the Senior A championship and Premier Intermediate respectively.

Nobody derives any pleasure when a hard-working club has to take a step down but all teams are fully aware of what might lie ahead at the outset of every championship season.

The structure that exists provides them with plenty of opportunities not to get sucked into a relegation issue, you get three chances to avoid that happening and if it does come to pass you still get one more shot at saving yourself in that relegation decider.

So, if the worst scenario happens you really cannot have any major complaints.

The hope for all the clubs that lose their status is that they can bounce back quickly, regroup for the next season and only spend the minimum of time in the lower grade.

That’s easier said than done, of course, and we have seen some clubs fall further down the ladder.

Now, as Na Piarsaigh reflect on where things went so badly wrong, they will point to their game with Bishopstown when they held a fairly substantial advantage at one stage.

But the Town reinvented themselves, regained the initiative and went on to bag the precious group points on offer in that game.

It’s always a thin line between success and failure and all genuine hurling supporters on Leeside will hope that this great club in Farranree will be able to once again become a premier force in the very near future.

On the other side of the coin, the Barrs are back in a county semi-final and the cause endures that they can dine again at the top table after a lengthy absence.

Douglas' Mark Harrington clears from St Finbarr's Brian Hayes. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Douglas' Mark Harrington clears from St Finbarr's Brian Hayes. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

They have now come out on top against the Rockies, Sars and Douglas and the belief levels will surely grow accordingly.

They did not set the world alight against Douglas in a game that never reached great heights but they managed to get the job done.

And that was what their latest examination was all about, getting over the line. When you reach the knockout stage of the championship the result overrides everything else.

DIGGING DEEP

This was a game when digging deep became the priority, defending resolutely as the opposition went in search of the goal that would, in all probability, have taken the contest into extra-time.

They did that with a display that was more of a collective effort rather than any one or more individuals standing out on their own.

In saying that they had nine different scorers contributing on the board and whilst no green flag was raised, they secured some fine points from Padraig Buggy, Brian Hayes, Jack Cahalane and Ben O’Connor among others.

Coming out on the right of a game that hung in the balance for so long will increase the confidence levels of the young players on this ‘Barrs team and whilst the job is still a long way from being completed, they are firmly in the mix.

Where Douglas are concerned, it’s another season of unfulfilled promise, getting off to a very positive start in their group with two victories but coming up short again when the harder questions wee posed, firstly by Newtown and last Sunday the Barrs.

This was another loss that will hurt for some time but it illustrated again how difficult it is to make that big breakthrough at this level of hurling.

Newtownshandrum made that big breakthrough over 20 years ago and they are back in the big picture again after their victory over the Glen last Friday night.

So too are Newtownshandrum after their Friday night victory over the Glen.

Newtown were not one of the fancied teams at the outset but that has all changed now and they are an hour away from getting back into a final again.

Full credit to them, they have now secured two big wins over Douglas and the Glen and there is a fine blend to the side.

Cathal Naughton no longer has that electric burst of pace of old but he compensates very well for that with his reading of the game and his ability to split the posts.

He did that four times on Friday night and all were scores of huge importance.

The much younger Cormac O’Brien belted in the all-important goal, delivered some fine points too and note will have been taken of that by the Cork selectors Tim O’Mahony and Jamie Coughlan made their presence felt too and this Newtown side is one of resilience and a spirit that can take you a long way.

Glen Rovers' Conor Dorris and Newtownshandrum's Kieran O'Sullivan go high for the sliotar. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Glen Rovers' Conor Dorris and Newtownshandrum's Kieran O'Sullivan go high for the sliotar. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Without doubt, Patrick Horgan’s absence through injury was a huge blow to the Glen.

In an earlier column we stressed that the loss of a key player to any club side can prove very damaging unless you have an equally formidable presence on the sideline.

All the more so when that player nearly gives a guarantee that he will be close to double figures in most games.

However, nothing should take from this Newtown victory and in a championship that is regarded as being as wide open for quite some time, they are in there now.

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