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Na Piarsaigh's Padraig Guest gathers the ball from Blackrock's John Cashman. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Na Piarsaigh's Padraig Guest gathers the ball from Blackrock's John Cashman. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
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The John Horgan column: Resurgence of city clubs good for hurling on Leeside 

BARRING draws, there are just two more games remaining in this season’s Cork County SHC, Saturday’s replay between Imokilly and Sarsfields and the final between the winners and Blackrock.

If Imokilly triumph over their East Cork neighbours it would send the Rockies through as Cork’s representatives in the Munster club championship, irrespective of how they would fare out in the county final.

So, as the year draws to a close at domestic level, how would the championship be viewed overall?

There is no doubt that games in the present era lack the fire and brimstone of past times and the fare on offer is sometimes lacking in the real cut and thrust of championship hurling.

However, it has still been a fine competition thus far and the two remaining games might well push it to a higher level.

We have had some very close games, quite a lot too of late, late drama resulting in teams securing a win or a draw with the last act of the game.

We have had a few surprises too along the way and of course, when it’s all done and dusted we will have new champions.

If it’s the Rockies it will be their first title win since 2002, a Sars victory would see them return to the top spot for the first time since 2014 whereas a victory for Imokilly would bring them back to the forefront for the first time since 1998.

The East Cork division was the last of those units to win the title and whilst a divisional team winning again might not be hugely popular in some quarters, this Imokilly bunch of players have put in a huge effort.

The return of the Rockies to the final stage is another illustration of the rise in prominence of the game in the city.

It wasn’t that long ago that the prophets of doom were telling us that we’d not see a city club collecting the old trophy for many a long day and that their demise would continue.

Now there is a 50/50 chance that a city club will claim a third title in a row.

And if the Rockies do succeed in achieving that feat they’ll have the Glen to thank for a lot of it.

They led the way in 2015 when they regained the title and the rising tide of that day has helped to lift the other boats.

It was very much a case of the rest saying, if they can do it, why can’t we.

It’s good for the game in general in the county to have the city clubs going well and it gives the competition a greater balance too.

Na Piarsaigh will have been very disappointed to lose last Sunday but when they reflect on the year they will view things in a more positive light.

Twelve months ago they defeated Newcestown by a point in a relegation play-off game and were fortunate to do so.

Now to have got into the last four at the other end of the scale has to represent considerable progress and there’s a lot more to build on now than there was.

The Barrs, unfortunately, now find themselves in a similar relegation scenario and they have a game with Youghal to deal with in the near future.

However, when they look back on the year they will see themselves as perhaps the unluckiest team of all, losing to a late, late goal against the Glen.

At the very worst that night in Pairc Ui Rinn they deserved another day out.

So, maybe they are not a million miles away either.

Douglas will be the most disappointed of all the city clubs this year, losing to Cork IT and subsequently to Killeagh.

With a few new acquisitions, they were one of the competition favourites at the outset but they just never delivered.

In fact, they were very fortunate to see off Youghal in a relegation game a few weeks back.

The message for a team with so much potential, must do a whole lot better next time.

Overall, the positives from the championship up to now have far outweighed any negatives and some of the drawn games and subsequent replays have provided us with some pulsating fare.

Maybe the best is yet to come.