NO championship is ever easily won, the prize that you secure at the end of the journey is hard earned and what you get you deserve.
That certainly applies here on Leeside in all the grades of hurling under the jurisdiction of the Cork County Board.
However, many are of the opinion that Premier Intermediate Championship is one of the most difficult of the lot.
That is based on the fact that the 12 participants are all rural based, competing on a very level playing field with not a lot between any of them.
Quite a few of them small enough in size but huge in the manner with how they apply themselves and with their organisational skills.
Firstly, there is a priority with their underage structure, making sure that the basics are in place to ensure that their young players are given every opportunity to elevate themselves on to the bigger stages with the passing years.
In a nutshell, if you haven’t the structures in place you will be at a big disadvantage.
In a few weeks’ time, newcomers to the PIHC, Castlemartyr will contest the final against a more seasoned side in the grade, Inniscarra.
Last weekend the two senior hurling semi-finals were done and dusted with plenty of time still remaining on the clock but in the grades below that was certainly not the case.
Extra time was required in a couple of instances.
In fact, the general consensus was that the two PIHC semi-finals produced the best fare of the lot, Castlemartyr getting past Castlelyons in one semi-final after a very fine game of hurling while out in Clougduv the fare was equally frenetic, Inniscarra and Ballinhassig going the full distance too before the Mid Cork side emerged victorious.
Some might have looked at that result with some surprise but anyone who knows anything about how Inniscarra teams apply themselves will not have been.
Their battling qualities became very evident as the game aged and a late goal from veteran and one of the club’s great servants, Colm Casey sealed the deal.
By all accounts, those present at the game were of the one voice in its aftermath, it was a cracking battle for supremacy and evidence again that in this premier grade you have to dig to the depths to get the result.
In Páirc Uí Chaoimh, beaten finalists for the past two years, Castlelyons were certainly the more experienced outfit going in against Castlemartyr but the quite remarkable run that this Castlemartyr team have been on in the past couple of seasons, winning LIHC and IAHC continued and their record now stands at 15 wins from 16 championship games across the grades.
Their only defeat came at the hands of Kilworth at the group stage of the PIHC a few weeks ago but they were able to reinvent themselves quickly and hard-earned victories over Ballinhassog, Carrigaline and last weekend against Castlelyons ensured that they are training again for another final.
Okay, I am biased being from the place but the old saying, you reap what you sow certainly applies here as I am sure it does with all the other clubs now looking forward to their finals.
Castlemartyr spent long, long years in the wilderness, going 40 plus years in trying to regain the JHC in East Cork and when they defeated Sarsfields in the final of 2010 how many envisaged where they’d be now.
Of course, the amalgamation with Dungourney to form the Kiltha Og club up to minor level was a masterstroke and has yielded a rich dividend for both clubs with Dungourney too preparing to face Cloughduv in the IAHC final.
Both clubs have certainly benefited from that amalgamation, two clubs from the one parish being present on the final graduation day at headquarters.
And a short distance from Castlemartyr you have Fr O’Neill’s back again in the Senior A Final against newcomers to that grade, Courcey Rovers.
And mention of the Ballinspittle team, the four-goal haul from Sean Twomey against Fermoy last weekend was a superb return from a player who will surely be in the equation where Pat Ryan’s plans are concerned.
There might be no East Cork representation in the Premier Senior final but you still have three East Cork clubs, separated by a very short distance, contesting three major county finals.
And that is further illustration of the strength of the game in that division.
O’Neill’s greater experience against Bride Rovers was the telling factor in the Senior A semi-final and their resilience in getting back into another final after losing the previous two deserves the highest credit.
All the aforementioned clubs have put in a huge effort on and off the field, there is a huge workload involved in club maintenance, in team preparation and being able to compete at a level that is advancing all the time.
To be fair, the fixtures and the streamlining of all the competitions have been first class and vice-chair Pat Horgan has worked tirelessly in that regard.
There is no doubt that Cork GAA is leading the way with its competition format, how they are run, all the more so because of the huge number of clubs involved and being a dual county.
Look what there is to look forward to, two potentially massive double-header October Sundays, The Rockies against the Barrs preceded by Castlemartyr and Inniscarra and Fr O’Neill’s against Courcey Rovers with Dungourney and Cloughduv up first that day.
And in that PIHC final, you could have two of Cork’s finest young players in direct opposition, Sean O’Donoghue at number 11 for Inniscarra and Ciarán Joyce at number six for Castlemartyr.