It’s been six years since Bishopstown reached the Cork SHC final, when they fell just short against a strong Sarsfields team.
For Brian Murray, it just goes to show how fast those years can go by.
“It’s hard to believe but a lot of those fellas are pushing 30 now. We just got a bit of a run, got momentum going and we played week after week and you can’t beat playing week after week and winning, it’s just a good feeling.
“It’s been a few years since they won their U21, we’ve got to one final since and we’ll try and get that mix right now between youth and experience to buy into all that.”
And experience is something that Bishopstown don’t lack.
Shane O’Neill is full time with the club again and Murray was keen to acknowledge the significance of his influence along with others.
“It’s massive having the likes of him around, especially for the younger fellas coming through and even Ken O’Halloran too. There’s a lot of leaders in the team, especially those lads. Their experience with Cork over the last 10 years is huge.”
Less certain is the role the talismanic Patrick Cronin will play in this year’s campaign. “He is after taking a year out of work, he’s getting married and he’s travelling but he’s put enough effort into the club over the last few years and he deserves a break! He might be back for the end of the year.”
As ever, the dual question hangs over many clubs and Bishopstown are no different, operating at senior in both codes.
In recent times they’ve seen players focus on one or the other but there’s a different approach in place for the coming year.
“We’ve more fellas playing both hurling and football this year whereas the last few years lads had either concentrated on one or the other. So, both teams have gained fellas and the footballers had a great win against Douglas. It’s all going well so far.
“You’d have about seven or eight starting senior hurling and football. It can be tough at times when you’re focused only on one but the end reward benefits the team.
Bishopstown won back-to-back U21 counties in 2006 and 2007 and these players still provide the bedrock to their senior team. The last couple of years has seen their minor team return to the Premier 1 minor grade and Murray sees this as an important bridge to the future of the club.
“Our minors have played Premier 1 for the past two years for the first time in seven or eight years and these fellas are making a step up and there’s a good few of them there. I
“It’s a bit easier making the step-up from Premier 1 hurling and they’re gelling well and there’s a nice mix and it’s the first time in a while that we’ve a bunch of fellas coming up together.”
In Midleton, they face one of the favourites to win the championship outright.
The teams have built up a bit of a rivalry over the past few years. Bishopstown lost to them in the first round before beating them in the quarter-final on the road to the 2012 final.
Murray both recognises and relishes the challenge that awaits them.
“We’ve played them six or seven times over the past few years. We’ve won a few, they’ve probably beaten us a bit more and we know them fairly well at this stage, we’re no strangers to each other and we know their strong points. They don’t have many weaknesses! It’ll be a tough start but it’s one we’re looking forward to.”
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