The Paudie Palmer column: County action is key now with club GAA games on hold

The Paudie Palmer column: County action is key now with club GAA games on hold

Former Cork goalkeeper Donal Óg Cusack and team doctor Con Murphy at Páirc Uí Chaoimh back in 2012. Donal Óg was made minor manager but like other sports has had his plans for the side disrupted by the arrival of Covid-19. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE

IT COULD have been described as a GAA famine weekend, which among other things served to remind some of us of our dependence on the various club championships over the past while.

At least, Sunday was a day borrowed from a favourable metrological reading with many taking to the Rebel owned section of the Wild Atlantic Way for the wellness component.

Yes, the new version of our national soccer team was in action in a Sky sponsored friendly on their TV screens but in the aftermath of the previous Thursday night’s departure from the Euros, it appeared that the citizens weren’t just ready for more.

However, the Covid related issues that attached to the Irish team both on Thursday, and in the early part of this week provided some of us with another reality check as to the challenges that will be involved in staging the various inter-county championships.

Back to this day last week, when Stephen Kenny discovered that two of the players were seated within four and 12 inches respectively of a suit who tested positive on the outward plane journey. To make matters worse, it was a false positive.

There is no doubt that each Covid issue that arises in the sporting context does provide more enlightenment and guidance.

If any doubt remained as to the ease that this virus can avail of any form of congregation, that doubt has been truly dispensed with over the past number of days with positive cases and hospitalisation numbers higher than any time during April, May and early June.

Somebody recently mentioned that team buses will be as scarce as music sessions in wet or dry pubs for quite a while and that a modicum of traffic on our roads will feature lone occupants on their way to and from these said intercounty clashes.

One would imagine though, that at this stage, the guidelines that have issued from Croke Park in relation to upcoming programme of games are comprehensive in the extreme and that the evil evil virus will have to look at other avenues to continue its trail of distraction.

As I scribble these few lines there is a fleet of harvesting agricultural machines laying into a large landmass of maize across the road and the first post covid inter-county fixture featuring a Cork team is the semi-final of the Munster minor hurling championship quarter-final between Cork and Clare this Saturday in Thurles at 1pm.

Strange and strange again. If you are awaiting guidance on who might win, well a vaccine might arrive sooner.

This much we do know, towards the end of 2019, when this virus was readying itself for a worldwide assault, Donal Óg Cusack was appointed as manager of this outfit for just this year with a succession programme in place which would see Noel Furlong from Carrigtwohill and a teacher in St Colman’s College, Midleton taking possession of the bainisteoir bib in 2021.

Recent evidence would suggest that at underage level, matters have improved considerably in this county and with a good management structure in place, I would fancy Cork to progress to a semi-final meeting with Limerick again in Thurles on Friday, October 30.

In case you have forgotten, the Cork senior footballers spent the early part of this year negotiating their way around the Allianz NFL Division 3 circuit and had almost obtained the Division 2 tour card when proceedings were called to an abrupt halt.

If they get a point from Saturday’s rescheduled game again against Louth in Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 4pm, then its mission accomplished.

Let’s be honest about it, it would be a major shock, if they didn’t win and if the unexpected happened, and they didn’t, they travel to Longford on Sunday week for their final game.

I would think that team will be on expected lines, which is probably another way of saying, that there wasn’t a new cohort of players outside the spring panel who put their hand during the club championships but we will have to wait and see until Ronan McCarthy announces his selection toward the end of the week.

No doubt the absence of Ciarán Sheehan, and Tomás Clancy will lessen the options.

The news earlier, that a number of Blackrock senior hurlers, as well as Shane Barrett from Blarney, had welcome news on their mobiles inviting them to join the Cork set up, reminded some of us, of time when life was simpler and some league matches were played prior to Christmas.

Shane Barrett. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Shane Barrett. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

You could nearly always be guaranteed that a player or two who performed well in various county championships would get a call-up.

Over the past number of years, it was easy to get the impression that club form wasn’t a major contributing factor for inter-county management teams.

Indeed, there was fair degree of suspicion that some county players may have been informed directly or indirectly of that scenario.

Of course, you are now well up to speed on the concept of the split season brought to you in no small way, courtesy of a silver lining of the pandemic.

Now it appears, that they only issue to be decided, is which comes first, the club season or the inter-county one.

Arguments can be made for both possibilities. but there seems to be a belief that when it will come to decision time, the inter-county will run from sometime in the Spring to July and then the club will take the stage.

Not wishing to take sides for the moment in this debate, but one argument against inter-county first, is that it would militate against the various county championship from providing a platform for that year’s county teams.

Anyway, it’s more than a likely an argument for another day.

With 13 of the Cork County finals still to be played, which from a sporting perspective is a pity, it does now appear, that the possibility of getting them played in 2020 is rather remote.

For now, our dearest wish is that the upcoming inter-county championships will provide the fix until turkey time.

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