UNFORTUNATELY, things don’t always work out how we’d like.
This year as a whole can be offered as testament to that, but there have been a few microcosmic examples, too. Take, for example, the centenary of the birth of Christy Ring.
Glen Rovers, the club with which he achieved so much, produced special jerseys with Ring’s image on them to mark the fact that he was born 100 years ago, and they made it all the way to the county final.
Sentiment would say that they should have gone on to claim the title — albeit wearing their black change jerseys — but instead Blackrock won to end an 18-year wait for the Seán Óg Murphy Cup.
That’s not to cast the Rockies as party-poopers, by the way — they fully deserved their win, but a scriptwriter would have been going for the Glen/Ring angle.
Last Friday, October 30, marked the exact centenary. It had previously been thought that October 12 was the great man’s birthday — Val Dorgan’s biography of Ring states this, for instance — but research for a documentary to be shown over Christmas threw up his birth certificate.
The Echo produced a wonderful supplement, which you should try to grab if you haven’t already, and, if you were of a romantic bent, you’d have thought that the best way to mark such an occasion was a Cork hurling performance full of vim and vigour against Waterford at Semple Stadium on Saturday evening.
Unfortunately, things didn’t work out that way as the Déise prevailed by four points — the lead was seven heading into injury time, but a Patrick Horgan goal from a free gave Cork the briefest of hope before the end.
It means that, while Waterford — who secured a first Munster championship win since 2016 — progress to a Munster final meeting with Limerick, Cork must now negotiate the qualifier route.
Given that the Munster championship wins of 2017 and 2018 were followed by All-Ireland semi-final defeats to Waterford and Clare respectively, it could be said that there isn’t really an advantage in the direct route but, given that changed make-up of the championship this year, it surely will be the case of things being the simpler the better.
What to take from it? Truthfully, it’s hard to know until we see Cork again.
On the one hand, you’d say that it was a poor performance from a team that knew that this was a knockout (not absolute knockout, but still) championship game and couldn’t seem to get going; on the other, it was clear that Waterford benefited from having more time together to prepare.
It’s possible, of course, that both of those statements are true.
Going in three points down at half-time was something you’d have taken beforehand from a Cork point of view, given the strength of the wind, but Calum Lyons’ goal had the twin effect of boosting Waterford and seeming to provide Cork with a belt in the guts.
Thereafter, the closest they came in normal time was four points and, while Horgan’s goal did reduce the margin to three, Waterford sub Patrick Curran landed the final point to put the issue beyond doubt.
At least there is a back door in the hurling; there isn’t, meaning that Tyrone and Monaghan are already out of the championship.
For us on Leeside, it means that the campaign could be ended come next Sunday evening after Kerry visit Páirc Uí Chaoimh — but the other side of that is that a Cork win would put Ronan McCarthy’s team in a great position to win the Munster championship and thereby qualify for the All-Ireland semi-finals.
It’s more of a possibility than a probability at this moment, but Cork put it up to Kerry in 2019, after a disastrous performance in 2018, and the challenge is to show that they can improve further.
It seems strange to think that it’s eight years since Cork beat Kerry in the championship and went on to win Munster – during Kerry’s golden years of 1975-86, the longest Rebel drought was nine years and that would be matched if victory isn’t achieved on Sunday.
Naurally, the hope is that that won’t be the case.