NEWCESTOWN and Killeagh know a year is a long time in hurling.
In September 2022, Killeagh needed a relegation play-off win over Ballymartle to preserve their senior A hurling status. In the same competition, Newcestown only avoided a similar scenario because of a solitary group win over Mallow.
Now, these two proud hurling enclaves meet in a Co-op Superstores Senior A HC quarter-final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday (4pm) for the right to face Carrigtwohill in the semi-final.
Newcestown manager Cha Wilson understands the wafer-thin margins of senior hurling better than most.
‘Reaching a county quarter-final is down to circumstance as much as anything else,’ Wilson told The Southern Star.
‘Last year, we had quite a few injuries and were struggling to field in our second teams whereas last weekend, our junior footballers had eight substitutes.
‘Momentum is a big part of it too and last year, momentum went against us. Look, the championship starts off with 12 clubs, there is a funnel effect, we are in the last six now and where we want to be.
‘Obviously, we want to progress but so does everybody else.’
Group B victories over Blarney and Ballyhea preceded a narrow one-point loss to Courcey Rovers to set up Newcestown’s quarter-final showdown with Killeagh. Emerging from such a tight group, where all four clubs were separated by two points, should stand to the dual senior West Cork club.
‘We were seen to be drawn in a very strong group but got over Blarney in our first game after a poor start,’ Wilson said. ‘That performance was uplifting for everyone in the parish. The Ballyhea game, we took control early and drove it on but let them back into it which we were disappointed with.
‘Being top of the group, we knew it was going to be very hard against a Courcey Rovers team that’s been in lots of finals over the last three or four years. We were already qualified and didn’t quite get that game right. They won it and fair dues to them.’
Newcestown’s quarter-final opponents have also turned things around during this campaign. Killeagh is as proud a hurling stronghold as Newcestown and Wilson is not underestimating the challenge that lies ahead.
‘I have no doubt that Killeagh is our toughest challenge of the year but there’s a lot more to it,’ Wilson added. ‘I thought Killeagh were very unlucky to be in the relegation final last year. I don’t think that is the true Killeagh by any means.
‘We have always had good battles with Killeagh so they will be gunning for us at this stage. For us, we want to keep the momentum on track. Bottom line, we have to focus on ourselves and keep pushing forward.’