So when the draw matched these two northside rivals at the quarter-final stage there was a surge of anticipation, a little blood and thunder in the old Park by the Lee, perhaps?
Nope. This was a damp squib. Autumn or not it was a glorious Saturday afternoon, ideal hurling weather, but this was a poor, listless and bloodless contest. Even as time ran out, the Glen needing goals to close the gap on their young next-door neighbours, there was a baffling sight of Patrick Horgan, one of the most lethal inside-forwards in the country, stationed forlornly on the 40 as ball after ball rained inside.
“I was shocked but delighted,” admitted Na Piarsaigh manager Sean Guiheen. “He wasn’t going to get a goal from there! I was delighted to see him so far from the square.”
Na Piarsaigh were the better side though they looked to be in trouble going into the break as they led by just a point (0-8 to 0-7) despite having played with the aid of the breeze.
The hurling in that half was particularly poor with defences dominating. Current Cork seniors Horgan and Stephen McDonnell (Glen Rovers) and Christopher Joyce (Na Piarsaigh) occasionally caught the eye, Joyce especially so but he spoiled his good work with poor shooting.
A pair of former stars really shone though. Evergreen Seán Óg Ó hAilpín and Graham Callanan were both dominant in their half-back positions.
That Na Piarsaigh eventually emerged victorious was courtesy of second-half goals by Patrick O’Rourke (40m) and nippy corner-forward Cian Buckley (47m).
The first restored Na Piarsaigh’s lead after points from Horgan (three), Paul Virgo and midfielder Keith McCarthy put the Glen two up ahead (0-12 to 0-10). The second put them four clear after they had again been hauled back and from there, they were never threatened.
Not a game then that will go down in the annals but that won’t bother Guiheen.
“Absolutely thrilled. Coming down here, a derby game, you don’t know how fellas are going to respond. It’s always the team that gets the momentum, gets the first goal maybe, that kicks on to win the game.
“We did get the first goal but we didn’t kick on, in fact for periods of the second half I thought it was going away from us.”
Thank God we got another goal and we got that bit of momentum again, a new lease of life. We brought on a few young fellas, fresh legs, and that worked well for us.
“But the goals were vital and we got them at vital times as well. They came from two defensive slips but we capitalised.”
Regardless of how it was achieved it puts Na Piarsaigh in the semi-final where they await the winners of the Bishopstown/Carrigtwohill/Midleton triangle. Mission accomplished, said a very realistic Guiheen, but improvement is needed.
“Look, we’re there, we’re delighted. Bragging rights for another year anyway!
“We’re really going to be up against it again, will probably be the underdogs again. We have to lift it now because that performance won’t do in the semi-final — we’re going to have to up it if we’re to beat any of those three teams.”
And despite Na Piarsaigh captain John Gardiner not managing to see out the full hour, their supporters can rest easy in the knowledge that he should be back for that game.
“John has been struggling with injury but he wanted to play, bottom line,” Sean explained. “He hasn’t done much training but he wanted to start, he’s captain of the team, so he did.”
Scorers for Na Piarsaigh: I McDonnell (0-8, five frees), P O’Rourke (1-1), S Duggan (1-0), C Buckley, C O’Mahony (0-2 each), R McGregor, C Joyce, K Buckley, (0-1 each).
Scorers for Glen Rovers: P Horgan (0-9, seven frees), P Virgo (0-3), D Brosnan (0-2), G Callanan, K McCarthy, C Healy (0-1 each).
NA PIARSAIGH: A Keating; A Brady, D Mannix, E Moynihan; A Dennehy, J Gardiner, S Óg Ó hAilpín; R McGregor, C Joyce; P O’Rourke, P Gould, I McDonnell; C Bradley, S O’Sullivan, S Duggan.
Subs: K Buckley for Gould (inj. 30), C O’Mahony for Gardiner (inj. 44), S Glasgow for McGregor (46), A Hogan for O’Sullivan (52).
GLEN ROVERS: C Hickey; S Kennefick, B Murphy, S McDonnell; B Moylan, P O’Brien, G Callanan; D Cronin, K McCarthy; D Brosnan, B Phelan, D Cunningham; P Virgo, P Horgan (c), C Healy.
Subs: G Moylan for O’Brien (inj. 19); D Busteed for Phelan (47); D Noonan for McCarthy (53); G Hackett for Healy (56).
Referee: D Kirwan (Éire Óg).