Players and managers may be anxious for supporters to come back, but they will still be forced to play out their crucial final round group games with a 200 limit in place, and it’s likely to remain that way for the foreseeable future.
Despite the lack of a support base, credit must go to the players who have managed to maintain their motivation levels. Over the opening two rounds of hurling action we have been served up a standard of play not witnessed in the county for many years.
With the lack of an audience, it’s difficult to have the same enjoyment. It must be hard for players to play in empty grounds, so one can understand why so many of them have expressed the hope that
audiences will soon be back.
However, this is unlikely to happen until the Government and Department of Health are happy that they have suppressed the virus.
As for now, it’s all about getting children back to school, getting jobs ups and running, and maintaining a high level of health services.
Last weekend some clubs paid a heavy price, with their season coming to an end inside just seven days of championship hurling. This is the reality of the new-look championship, as options were limited, and there was always going to be bitter disappointment for so many.
After a weekend of twists and turns, two of our main urban towns will be left without top level adult hurling until April of 2021 when the All-County Leagues resume.
One could understand the bitter disappointment on the faces of both players and management when Rapparees suddenly realised they were out of Senior hurling contention owing to a late, controversial goal from a penalty for Naomh Eanna. Yes, their season was over inside seven days.
On the other side of Enniscorthy town, Shamrocks suffered a second successive defeat, ending their interest in the Intermediate ‘A’ hurling championship.
So, a town with such a great hurling tradition is left without top level hurling for this year, and it’s still only July. A town already struggling is left in a real vacuum for more than nine months.
The battle for the survival of hurling in New Ross continues. Geraldine O’Hanrahans, with a second defeat, have been eliminated from the Intermediate ‘A’ title race.
Struggling in under-age, they have been left with a mountain to climb to maintain a hurling presence in the town.
That scenario, of teams’ interests ending in such a short timeframe, as always going to occur, but one had hoped that the urban clubs would have created more of an impact.
Naomh Eanna are through to the quarter-finals, while Faythe Harriers still have a challenge to clinch their knockout spot.
The Harriers and Fethard meet this weekend with the town side on two points alongside Ferns, who have finalised their campaign and are guaranteed a quarter-final berth.
Fethard need both points and should such a scenario develop, all three sides will be on
two points, with scoring aggregate then coming into play.
Last year’s beaten finalists, St. Anne’s, are sure of their quarter-final spot, following hugely impressive victories over Rathnure and Glynn-Barntown.
That duo, both point-less, now clash in a winner-takes-all tie.
For St. Martin’s, as expected the reigning champions impressively plough on, with the second quarter-final spot in their group coming down to the winners between Cloughbawn and Oulart-The Ballagh.
It will be one of the shortest championships ever but it has still managed to serve up some of the best club hurling seen for many a year.
We have enjoyed some classic games, some compelling, close tussles, with matches going down to the final stroke in additional time, which adds to the disappointment of games being played out without an audience.
The party is by no means over as we can be certain of another enthralling weekend of hurling on the horizon.
Given the consistency of teams, and the standard of hurling which has been top quality, the argument is now being pressed that this is because of continuous games, with hurling and football not being inter-mixed on successive weekends.
So there’s some more food for thought.