Martin Bowen: Erin’s Own won’t be making up numbers

After Midleton kicked down the door to end East Cork’s wait for the Cork senior hurling title, Erin’s Own were the next through.
Martin Bowen: Erin’s Own won’t be making up numbers

The Magpies won the championship in 1983, the first time since 1970 Blackrock, Glen Rovers or St Finbarr’s hadn’t been successful, and for the rest of that decade the four formed a ‘new firm’.

Na Piarsaigh’s 1990 win indicated something was stirring though, and after Midleton beat the Glen in the 1991 final, Erin’s Own claimed the Seán Óg Murphy Cup in 1992, signalling a sea-change as senior hurling in the county became more democratised.

By the time Midleton would return to the top table in 2013, Erin’s Own would add further titles in 2006 and ’07.

While the Glounthaune club haven’t reached a final since then, Sunday’s clash with Midleton in Páirc Uí Rinn (2.30pm) is their second consecutive semi-final.

Manager Martin Bowen is aware of the size of the task ahead.

“At the start of the year, you’d have been looking at the Glen, Sars, and Midleton,” he says, “so we’re under no illusions.

“I think the bookies have them at 1/3, but it’s 15 against 15 when you go out onto the pitch and we won’t be just looking to make up the numbers.

“It’s funny, we haven’t played them much in the senior championship, 2014 is the only time I can think of, the year after they had been champions.

“Midleton were the first team to really challenge the traditional big three. We’d have all been supporting them, they set the standard and then the likes of ourselves, the divisional teams like Imokilly, Carbery and Avondhu and Newtown came after that.”

Former Cork player Killian Murphy is Erin’s Own’s only major injury absentee as he recovers from a shoulder injury sustained in the first-round win over CIT.

While there are survivors from the last title such as goalkeeper Shay Bowen (Martin’s son), Shane Murphy, Stephen Cronin, Kieran and Eoghan Murphy, Seán Kelly and Colm Coakley, there are plenty of changes too.

“We’re a team in transition, in lots of ways,” Bowen says.

“This current management team came in at the start of last year and we knew there would have to be changes and a lot of younger lads have come into the team.

“We’re very happy with how things have gone, it’s been fabulous, to be honest. Sunday will be our sixth game this year and we had five last year, including the replay with Sarsfields in the semi-final. There’s nothing like championship games and they’ve really helped to bring the team on.”

In that regard, he is fully supportive of the new championship system introduced this year as he believes it provides more game without unduly extending the time required to play off the championship.

“Personally, I’d be very happy with it,” he says.

“Overall, I think it has worked out better as relegation was an awful burden on teams. It definitely hindered teams’ development and their hurling, in my view.

“Luckily, we were never caught up in it but there was a fear factor there that was impeding teams.

“The other point is that, even though you had complaints there were too many games, we’re still here with the semi-finals as normal at the end of September.

“It has all gone off fairly well.” It is 362 days since they lined up against neighbours Sarsfields in the 2015 semi-final, Erin’s Own were close to reaching the final but were reeled in before losing the replay.

“I suppose we were a bit unlucky the first day,” he says. “In the replay, Sars were a lot better and we struggled, but at the same time there was one period where we nearly got a goal, then they went down the other end and got one, so what could have been a three-point game was a nine-point one. Games go like that, last year is forgotten now and we’re focused on Sunday.”

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