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Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Picture: Eddie O'Hare
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The Paudie Palmer column: The Cork hurlers and footballers are now in the fast lane, destination Croke Park

NO more road works, traffic diversions, or alternative routes. The journey to a coronation at Croker is now motorway business.

The only statistic that will decide if a county remains on course for an All-Ireland final is the scoreline.

For the Cork senior hurlers, the hurdles and jumps will be provided by Westmeath, Kilkenny, and Limerick (unless Dublin beat Tipp in the other quarter-final). The first two are surmountable. Limerick are more of an obstacle, particularly in light of their awesome Munster final display. But Cork’s form against them narrows the odds.

Recent events also back the theory that June pitch invasions may not lead to an August repeat.

It is important that the Cork squad has quality off the bench, so the news that Aidan Walsh may spend some time on the sidelines, due to a finger injury, is a concern.

A positive development is the addition of Tom Kenny to the coaching staff. Earlier efforts to bring him on board didn’t work out, due to his busy schedule, but now that he is there, he should make a difference.

The Grenagh native, who appeared in four All-Ireland finals, winning two, has been developing his coaching skills with a number of UCC hurling teams, and this articulate practitioner will add value to an excellent set-up.

Incidentally, the number of personnel in the Cork management and backroom is lower than it is in most counties.

It is fair to take it as read that in the aftermath of Sunday’s trip to Mullingar, the Rebels will be preparing for the latest instalment of Cork versus Kilkenny. Six teams are in the mix for Liam McCarthy, but the destination of Sam would appear to be a foregone conclusion.

I was interested in an article in one of the weekend publications on Dublin’s ability to win favour with referees. It explained that the number of fouls to the number of disciplinary cards shown to Dublin is most favourable when compared to their rivals.

Just as an example of the fouls-to-cards ratio, the recent Leinster final was cited. Dublin committed 41 fouls, which resulted in one yellow card, whereas Meath were whistled for infringements on 29 occasions, which resulted in one black and seven yellow cards. A number of other examples were given, which, if taken at face value, would indicate that the Dubs are in receipt of very favourable treatment.

Dublin’s next match in the championship is against the winner of Cork and Laois and it will be very interesting if the figures from that game back up the notion of Dublin’s fouling policy being a bit cuter than that of their country cousins.

Yes, indeed, Jim Gavin’s team may very well be just waiting for the autumn completion of five-in-a-row, but Mayo may, once again, provide a large modicum of the entertainment. Last Saturday night, in their home patch, they didn’t allow us to leave at communion time, in their match against Armagh.

In terms of their status as genuine All-Ireland contenders, you would want to have euros to burn before you would invest in them.

A glance at their medical team’s work roster would inform you of everything you need to know. Tom Parsons, a leading midfield light for them, hasn’t returned. Matthew Ruane, Seamus O’Shea, and Diarmuid O’Connor are also in the infirmary.

Add to that the sight of Lee Keegan and Jason Doherty heading for medical intervention and the gap to 1951 will run on to 2020.

An interesting figure from their match with Armagh was brought to our attention on The Sunday Game, when Kevin McStay addressed the issue of timekeeping.

Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

In all, the referee played five minutes extra, at the end of the match, which McStay contended should have been 10 at least.

Six Mayo players were treated for injuries during the second period, which, if the referee followed the correct procedure in stopping the watch, would bring the time required to 7.48 minutes. Add to that, there were seven second-half substitutions, with two of them double substitutions. That’s another 2.3 minutes.

McStay decided not to add time that was lost when the referee had to consult with his other match officials during the game. In reality, Maurice Deegan should have played at least 11 minutes extra, instead of the five that he did.

This issue needs addressing and McStay previously discussed this situation on the programme five years ago.

Brian Gavin, who writes a referee’s critic column for the Irish Examiner, didn’t make any reference to it last Monday morning. Ahem.

I am reminded of Napoleon when it comes to Cork football in this championship. He said that he wasn’t all together concerned with the skill set of his generals. He just wanted to know if they were lucky or not.

So far this year, Limerick took out Tipperary, a team that may have presented problems, while injury took out James O’Donoghue, of Kerry. Last Monday morning, we waited for the draw expecting the Lord to show benevolence to Rebel red.

He delivered Laois and for that Cork football fans are grateful. Yes, they will be challenging, but if Cork’s football summer is to remain in positive territory, they will need to be Super 8 card-carrying members at 7pm on Saturday. Then, we can check the fouling habits of the Dubs!

CONTACT: [email protected] or tweet @paudiep.