The three-in-a-row has become a rare commodity in the Cork Senior Hurling Championship.
Not since the St Finbarr’s class of the ’80s has a team managed to secure the Seán Óg Murphy Cup for three years running. Now the current Barr’s group have now been tasked with attempting to halt Imokilly’s charge for three-in-a-row — the fifth team to try this year.
So far, Fergal Condon’s East Cork charges have proven unstoppable, providing little evidence to suggest they’ll be caught any time soon.
The numbers listed below highlight how they’ve been such an untouchable force since the start of their winning run.
Jersey worn by Declan Dalton when lining out between the posts during Imokilly’s march to glory in 2017. He’s since migrated to the attack, scoring 1-39 (1-26 from placed balls) this season from the full-forward berth. It is one of numerous changes made to the starting line-up over the past three seasons, the steady flow of fresh faces coming on stream being a key component in their ability to stave off all challengers.
Players who have started each one of Imokilly’s 17 championship games across 2017, ’18, and ’19. They are John Cronin of Lisgoold and Castlemartyr’s Brian Lawton.
The divisional outfit are bidding to become only the fourth side to complete the three-in-a-row of Cork SHC titles. Should they manage the feat, they’ll join an illustrious group containing the three most successful clubs in Cork hurling history — Blackrock, Glen Rovers, and Sunday’s opponents St Finbarr’s.
Premier Intermediate clubs feeding into this Imokilly side, underlining the strength of the supply chain into the divisional set-up. Fr O’Neill’s have reached this year’s PIHC final, while Watergrasshill and Castlelyons made the last eight. The remaining three are Aghada, Cloyne, and Youghal.
The latter’s relegation at the end of 2017 significantly strengthened Imokilly’s back-to-back bid in 2018 as they could now call on the services of Cork and Youghal midfielder Bill Cooper. He scored four points from play in last year’s final.
Their average winning margin in points across their three-year unbeaten championship run. Their biggest winning margin has been 18 points, which they twice achieved. In 10 of their 15 wins, the margin of victory has been in double-digit territory. On only two occasions has a team been within a point at the final whistle (Erin’s Own, 2017 quarter-final replay and Newcestown, 2018 quarter-final).
Number of teams in next year’s newly drawn-up Senior A Hurling Championship. Included in this are Cloyne and Fr O’Neill’s, robbing Imokilly of regular starters Paudie O’Sullivan, Mark O’Keeffe, Declan Dalton, and Ger Millerick. Because of this, does 2019 represent Imokilly’s best chance at further silverware for a while to come?
Number of championship games unbeaten. Erin’s Own and Sarsfields both took Imokilly to a replay in the latter stages of the 2017 championship, but the divisional outfit were not to be caught the second day out.
Imokilly’s average total during their three seasons of dominance. In 17 games, Condon’s men have clocked 34-372. Their lowest tally during this period was the 1-17 put up against Sars in the wind and lashing rain at Páirc Uí Rinn last time out. They failed to raise a green flag in just three of those games.
The number of points struck when dumping out Midleton in Round 3 this year. Of the 0-34 hit at Carrigtwohill against last year’s county finalists, 24 were from open play.
Years since a club last managed to win three consecutive Cork SHC titles. The Barrs’ three-in-a-row from 1980-82 has grown more impressive as the years have elapsed when you consider five teams have since strung together back-to-back county championship title wins, but none could follow it with that elusive third. Imokilly were one of those sides, failing to carry their winning form from ’97 and ’98 into 1999.
Seamus Harnedy’s championship total — all from play — in the Imokilly colours during the past three years. The St Ita’s man has been on the mark from play in the 15 games that he’s featured in. It breaks down, roughly, as a contribution of 0-5 per game.
The total number of days since Imokilly were last defeated in the championship. And how unfortunate for the East Cork divisional outfit that they were to come off second-best on the afternoon of August 28, 2016 — Erin’s Own finding the net in the fourth minute of second-half stoppages to secure a one-point win and, in the process, booking their place in the last eight of the championship.