Last year’s finalists Glen Rovers and Midleton face must-win games this weekend. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

No room for error in round 2 of hurling championships

What a dramatic weekend in the opening round of the Co-Op Superstores County Hurling championships! There were just 3 draws across all grades, with the ‘Barrs involved in two of them.

Who would have thought that among the clubs that lost in the Premier grade it would include Midleton, Glen Rovers and Sarsfields, while the margin of victory in some games was to say the least surprising, the heavy defeats shipped by Carrigtowhill and Ballymartle.

It all means that should a club incur a second defeat, their championship ambitions are over in the space of 7 days, with the spectre of relegation then lurking in the background.

Premier Senior Hurling

Group A

Douglas were excellent in the manner in which they saw off Midleton and will travel to Mourneabbey in confident mood to play Kanturk, mindful that at the same stage last year they demolished Glen Rovers and while they made the knockout phase, they never hit the highs they produced that night again.

They are a more experienced outfit now and with Shane Kingston, Mark Harrington in good form, they should make it two from two on Saturday in a game that has a 5pm start.

The champions Midleton put their title on the line in Páirc Uí Rinn also on Saturday at 5pm against a Newtownshandrum side that showed their resolve in seeing off a determined Kanturk last time out.

Conor Lehane, Ross O’Regan, Tommy O’Connell and Luke O’Farrell will look to raise performance levels for the Magpies and coach James O’Connor will demand a response.

Tim O’Mahoney was outstanding for Newtown and with lending excellent support, they have the potential to end the champions reign.

Group B

Not for the first time, Erin’s Own showed their mettle with a deserved win over a Glen Rovers side who went 22 minutes without a score in the 2nd half, that coming after quickly wiping out the Caherlag sides interval lead. Now another city club Na Piarsaigh will endeavour to dent Martin Bowen’s men march to the knockout phase on Sunday in Páirc Uí Rinn with a 3pm start.

Na Piarsaigh will be disappointed at how they failed to close out their game with Bishopstown, who to their credit displayed remarkable resolve to chisel out a great win, Christopher Joyce and Craig Hannifin will return for them but how they react to that loss will shape their season.

Once again the Murphys, Shay Bowen and Robbie O’Flynn will be big players for Erin’s Own who if they repeat their display of last week will win.

The opening game in Páirc Uí Rinn now at 1pm is the meeting of Bishopstown and Glen Rovers, contrasting moods coming into this encounter, and no doubt the ‘Town in buoyant mood at the win and more importantly the manner in which they beat Na Piarsaigh, will feel confident they can build on that result.

Ken O’Halloran was outstanding in goal, while Pa Cronin reeled back the years with some quality points, Pearse Morris and Ian Jones also made vital contributions, but they will miss the tenacious Paul Honohan from defence.

Glen find themselves in a similar position to last year with a first round defeat; in recent meetings they have had the edge over their city rivals, but they will need significant improvement if they are to win this one.

Once again Brian Moylan, Robert Downey, Dean Brosnan and Patrick Horgan will be keen to erase the loss to Erin’s Own and they should have enough in hand to get their season back on track.

Group C

The so called group of death lived up to its name with a draw in one game and the ‘Rockie’s coming from behind to beat a highly rated Sars side who now head to Mallow on Saturday knowing only a win will keep their season alive.

Charleville secured a draw with a late Jack Doyle point and with Darragh Fitzgibbon playing well, they will relish the challenge Sars will present. The fact that Sars let a 4 point lead slip to the ‘Rockies will annoy the East Cork side as they looked to have done enough to win, but a missed penalty by Shane O’Regan proved costly.

Aaron Myers was excellent and if Jack O’Connor and James Sweeney play to their potential Charleville could have a tough hour on their hands.

The ‘Barrs looked to have done enough to get what would have been a huge win against Charleville, but they had to settle for a point not the outcome they wanted but it could be a priceless one, achieved without the Cahalane brothers Damien and Conor. Now it’s age old rivals Blackrock in Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday.

There was a sense of relief in the ‘Rockies camp at the conclusion of their dramatic win over Sars, and how it was achieved will give them huge confidence for this game, even if over the course of the hour they only had 3 scorers with Alan Connolly chipping in with 1-9, while Stephen Murphy and Michael O’Halloran also played well.

Ben Cunningham and Brian Hayes were excellent for Ger Cunningham’s side but they and more will need to be as good again if they are to win this one, but as ever when these age old rivals meet, previous form goes out the window, they did meet last year and the ‘Rockies won easily, they might shade this one as well.

Senior A

There was a couple of comfortable wins in this grade for some teams last week and they will look to build on those results for this weekend.

Mallow will be expected to get the better of a youthful Cloyne side, Carrigtwohill and Ballymartle were at the end of heavy defeats in their first game so one of them should bounce back a nod to Ballymartle.

Blarney even without the suspended Shane Barrett should be too strong for Killeagh, while the meeting of Fr O’Neill’s and Courcey Rovers should produce a lively hour, but the odds favour O’Neills.

Winners last week Newcestown and Fermoy meet in Ballincollig and here you feel the Carbery side will shade it, while there’s an interesting encounter between Bride Rovers and Ballyhea who both racked up huge wins, hard one to call, take a punt on Rovers though.

Premier Intermediate

There are three games on Friday night; Youghal will look to bounce back from their loss to Inniscarra, but might find Valley Rovers a bit too experienced for a young side.

There’s an East Cork derby in Rathcormac where Castlelyons should get the better of Watergrasshill, while the meeting of Bandon and Inniscarra should be lively with Colm Casey and Sean O’Donoghue looking to get a 2nd win for ‘Scarra.

Ballinhassig made a winning start last week and should be too good for Ballincollig, while it’s hard to see Kilworth stopping Castlemarytr who made the step up to this grade with ease.

Eire Og got a draw last week but might be too good for Carrigaline.

Intermediate A

Kildorrery v Mayfield - verdict Kildorrery

Sarsfields v Meelin - verdict Sars

Midleton v Lisgoold - verdict Lisgoold

Cloughduv v Dungourney - verdict Dungourney

Aghada v Blackrock - verdict Aghada

Aghabullogue v Douglas - verdict Aghabullogue

Premier Junior

Russell Rovers v Glen Rovers - verdict Glen Rovers

Ballygarvan v Ballygiblin - verdict Ballygiblin

Milford v Barryroe - verdict Milford

Tracton v St Catherines - verdict Tracton

Kilbrittain v St Finbarr’s - verdict Kilbrittain

Argideen Rangers v Dripsey - verdict Argideen Rangers

Finally best wishes to both Cork camogie teams in Croke Park on Sunday; the Intermediate Final v Galway starts at 2pm with the senior decider against Kilkenny at 4.15pm and both games are live on C103.

It would be great to head to the South Mall on Monday night to welcome the victorious teams home, haven’t done that for a while!