THE club hurling season got off the ground last weekend with games in all divisions of the county league and some of the fare was quite entertaining.
Similar to the national league, there were some lopsided results, but that was probably expected in some cases.
After all, for the clubs who didn’t emerge from the group stages of last season’s championship, this was their first competitive game for a very long time.
In a lot of cases too, clubs were without key players for various reasons and that gave others the opportunity to put down an early marker.
Cork senior management’s decision to allow players play for their clubs added a bit more buoyancy to the games.
The availability of those players helped a number of clubs considerably; quite a few making a significant contribution.
And the probability is that the Cork management team took in a few games, doing a bit of talent spotting and checking on the welfare of their players.
Very soon, if it hasn’t been done already, it will be make-your-mind-up time in putting a championship squad in place.
They have cast the net far and wide over the past few of weeks, six games played between the Munster League and the National League ahead of Wexford’s visit to Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday.
And while nobody is getting carried away with the results, there is a bit of momentum being built up, some of the newcomers are making the desired impact, and confidence is building.
This observer got in a few games last weekend — the Douglas-Erin’s Own encounter on Saturday and the derby game between Castlemartyr and Dungourney on Sunday.
The Cork management will be delighted that Alan Cadogan got much-needed game time for Douglas in their emphatic win over a depleted Erin’s Own team and he converted some fine points.
Cadogan still has a lot to offer Cork, if not from a starting position, then certainly as an impact sub. Against Galway in last season’s All-Ireland quarter-final he arrived on the scene and hit three superb points in the 12 minutes that he was on the field.
Shane Kingston delivered 0-8 and he will be a key figure going forward.
There was a fine attendance in Castlemartyr for the clash of the near neighbours, both clubs, of course, amalgamated at underage level.
The big talking point from thise encounter was the display of Cork’s star centre-back, Ciaran Joyce who lined out in attack for Castlemartyr, performing superbly in the number 11 jersey.
His class and physical presence was a joy to behold and some of his points were sublime. He seems to be the type of player that would be at home in any position, centre-back or centre-forward, it would not make a difference.
It might have only been a club league game in early March, but his presence added to the occasion with Dungourney securing the parish bragging rights by two points in an entertaining game.
A few miles away in Ahavine, the home of Fr O’Neill’s, there was a huge attendance to witness the club make its Premier Senior competitive hurling debut.
A small club from East Cork that once struggled at junior level, this was a huge achievement for all involved, a reward for the work put in by so many down the years, and those present were treated to a fine game against Charleville, familiar rivals in recent years and things finished all square, with Deccie Dalton continuing the form that he showed against Galway, hitting 1-12.
Sarsfields put up a huge score in their lopsided win over Kanturk and another Cork player, Jack O’Connor, made his presence felt with a fine goal.
It was a very tough weekend for county champions St Finbarr’s, after the very sad passing of club great and former dual star, Bertie O’Brien. He was described by former Cork great and long-time club secretary, Tony Maher as a club icon and one of best dual players ever to don the famed blue jersey.
The Barrs shared the spoils with Newtownshandrum with Cork hopefuls Ethan Twomey and Cormac O’Brien in direct opposition.
Midleton’s Sam Quirke and Cormac Beausang impressed too in their win over Bishopstown.
Overall, a very successful opening weekend on the domestic front on Leeside, but it’s back to inter-county action for the players on Sunday.
It’s will be interesting to see how Darragh Egan’s Wexford will react to the home drubbing they received from Clare; it was one of the county’s most depressing performances for many a long day.
But those results can happen in the league and how you react in your next outing tells quite a lot.
Wexford is a great hurling county, a great support base too, and you would certainly think that Cork won’t have it as easy as Clare did in Wexford Park.
It must be noted that Egan is without key players because of injury, but there’s an onus on those wearing the Wexford jersey to stand up and be counted in a far more positive manner.
Cork, quite rightly, are the big fancy to copperfasten a semi-final place, but it would be great to see an old-fashioned Cork v Wexford encounter, the type we got in the days long past.