Midleton and the Glen guaranteed to get pulses racing

It was one of the games of last year’s Cork SHC - Midleton against the Glen, down the Páirc, in a proper game of knock-out hurling.

It toed-and-froed before a youthful Midleton team saw off the champions of 2015 and 2016.

The two clubs are among the aristocrats of Cork hurling, and the respect Midleton manager Terence McCarthy has for tomorrow's opponents in the first round of the championship is evident.

“Glen Rovers would be one of the marquee names in the championship. They’ve had two recent county championship victories in 2015 and 2016 and I suppose that they’re looking forward to a good game against us as well. It was a great game last year, I think we were two points up at half-time, then we were two points down with ten minutes to go and came out on top by a point in the end. We’re looking forward to it now and the same result again would be nice!”

That respect is mutual and while Glen Rovers selector Seánie McGrath wasn’t happy with last year’s result, he had no complaints either.

“Midleton are quality opposition. They were much better than us last year though we were very disappointed with our performance and we didn’t really play to the best of our ability.

“But they were brilliant on the night. Conor Lehane was outstanding, Luke O’Farrell played very well, and a couple of the younger lads were good as well.

“In someway you could say it’s an opportunity to get revenge but if it was a knock-out game you’d say more about it. But the fact that it’s still going into July or August again afterwards, irrespective of the result maybe takes a little bit of the gloss off it.

“But it’s still a glamour tie, two big clubs playing who’ll bring a bit of a crowd. We’ve trained well the last few weeks and we’re looking forward to it.”

That little bit of gloss that’s missing is all to do with structures. The broken nature of the championship means that it is a continuous struggle to try and get preparations right and McCarthy admits that while past experience counts for something it doesn’t mean things get any easier.

“No, it doesn’t, but I think familiarity helps us in that we’ve the same strength and conditioning coach for the last three years, Darragh Graham, and the same management team for the last three years too so that helps every season.

"You learn the pitfalls, you learn when to try and peak, how many league games to play and when, more importantly, not to play as well.

"It’s the same for everybody and we’re ok with that.”

And what of the recent debates on structures?

“I think it’s very progressive of the board to try and change and to try and listen to the players. What I do think is important to say is that, including our own Conor Lehane, inter-county players want to play with their clubs and that’s a good reflection on those lads as the club is still very important to them too."

There have been some changes on the Midleton sideline. Paddy Fitzgerald is no longer involved while former player Alan Cahill has come on board.

For the Glen, it’s also a case of tweaking things more than anything else as McGrath explained.

“We’ve changed things around this year. Ian Lynam has stepped down from the coaching. He’s a super coach and did a really good job with the team for the past few years and Eoghan Cronin has stepped in.

“Eoghan is not long retired and has been a great servant to the club. But he’s always had a flair for coaching. They’re big shoes for Eoghan to fill, taking over from Ian, but he’s done very well, and training has gone well.

“I’d like to think that we’re fit. I suppose for first round games every club would say that you don’t really know where you are until the day of the game.

“Every year you have to freshen things up and try and get new blood in. We do have an aging team and they’ve been unbelievable servants and they’ve worn the Glen jersey with great pride, and we wouldn’t have won counties without the likes of Graham Callinan, Paddy Cunningham and the like.

“Freshness is required, youth is required. Simon Kenefick, Rob Downey and Shane Busteed are all good young players. We’re trying to bring them in at the right time and play them in the right game, trying not to bring them in too early. They’ll be sprung at some stage.”

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