Paul Kerrigan now holds an impressive record in the football league

Paul Kerrigan now holds an impressive record in the football league

Paul Kerrigan of Cork walks into the stand for half time in the win over Louth last weekend. He know has Division 1, Division 2 and Division 3 league medals. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

WE had to wait for a while to make a declaration of 'mission accomplished' in relation to the Cork senior football team.

Back on the second last Sunday in March 2019, despite defeating Armagh in their final league game, a draw between Clare and Tipperary meant that Cork were relegated to Division 3.

No, the county didn’t grind to a halt, let’s be honest, outside a small cohort the Cork sporting public had attended sadder funerals.

The Rebels had ceased to be viewed as an army of its people. Gaelic football around these parts was on a trolley waiting for a bed in ICU.

Then to the surprise of many, shoots emerged and a phoenix-like rise began to unfold.

Five months after that apocalyptic March Sunday, two significant All-Ireland titles, minor and U20 arrived in the county.

The senior team gained followers after a stronger than expected showing against the green and gold neighbours before availing of the qualifier route to achieve Super 8 status. Despite three defeats, the performances served to keep us believing.

When the realists decided on the objectives for 2020, promotion from Division 3 was a must, particularly in light of the knowledge, that to remain there was to sit the ordinary paper to gain admission to the Tailteann Cup.

Five wins from five in the early league journey satisfied the objective markers without anybody hiring a low flying aircraft caring a 'Cork for Sam' banner.

Then with the summit in sight, the shutters came crashing down with most of us believing that a reopening in 2021 was the most realistic view. The citizens of the nation behaved almost impeccably and we were back in business.

However, the eye was taken off the ball, the virus smiled and our magnificent club championships, rightly in this writer’s opinion, were consigned to cold storage.

However, the much-maligned inter-county scene had a preservation order attached, not so much in an effort to rehouse Liam, Sam and a few cousins, but it was now considered as a vital component of the mental health strategy of this nation.

The government belief in this new-found status was evidenced by the fact that it found another €15m in that most bottomless of piggy banks to roll-out, for all our wellbeing, championship 2020 as well as the two remaining rounds of the NFL.

Louth arrived at the spanking new stadium on Saturday last, departing Dundalk at 8.30am that morning to fulfil a fixture obligation, rather than harbouring any ambitions of stopping Cork’s elevation.

They did score the first two points, others might say they poked the bear, but Cork landed 3-6 without reply and it wasn’t show-over but mission accomplished.

Paul Kerrigan scored two of the five goals but I wonder did he write himself into a most unique history chapter.

Not being a historian of any calibre, I would still venture to suggest that the Nemo veteran is now the only player in the country with Division 1, 2 and 3 football league medals.

Not to be any way dismissive of the wee county’s input, but any forensic analysis of Sunday’s encounter would be rather foolhardy considering that Cork’s next significant outing is against Kerry in just over two weeks.

They had another league game to come against Longford, but the Leinster county have since given a walk-over.

For the moment and assuming that the championship does go ahead, one would think that a victory over Kerry in the Munster semi-final on November 7 is a bridge too far at this time.

Yes, our history in the predication stakes may be questionable but right now I would think the green and gold ones have a right good chance of adding to their Sam tally.

We will put forward three points to support the claim. For the past few seasons, there was an amount of evidence to suggest that Kerry’s attacking options are up there with the other leading contenders but that issues surrounding their defensive set up existed.

The story from over the border is that a lot has been done to rectify this situation with one strategy being the deployment of attackers from a four-person half-forward line to defensive duties.

This situation can also be dependant on defenders going in the opposite direction and it was interesting that in Inniskeen last Sunday there were more Kerry defenders on the scoresheet than attackers.

Next and you will probably lose all faith, I think that the mighty Dubs have slipped a notch or two.

I better come clean here, the assertion is based on Dublin’s display against Meath when a number of non-Dublin traits were in evidence.

Two, in particular, caught the eye, firstly a lack of discipline leading to a number of Meath pointed frees. Secondly, there were more than the usual quota of turnovers which is so not like Dublin.

Finally, time between games has to be a consideration. After next Sunday’s game against Donegal and if Kerry were to get to an All-Ireland final, they will have a time interval of at least two weeks between each game. Have I convinced you?

If you wish, you can inform Ronan McCarthy of this writer’s views on where Sam’s next home will be.

Cork manager Ronan McCarthy and coach Cian O'Neill. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Cork manager Ronan McCarthy and coach Cian O'Neill. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Prior to the Covid-19 interruption, the rumours from the Cork minor hurling camp were positive both in terms of the quality of players involved and the expertise that was emanating from the team management.

Last Saturday’s display against Clare was a testament to the accuracy of that suggestion. Their semi-final against Limerick, originally down for October 30 is now on hold. 

Still, last weekend was a good one for the Rebel armies, let’s hope that there are more on the horizon.

Contact: paudie.palmer@ hotmail.com; Twitter: @paudiep

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