IT feels like a few years ago that the Cork senior hurling and football teams wore special black jerseys commemorating the centenary of the deaths of Terence MacSwiney and Tomás Mac Curtin as well as the Kilmichael ambush and the burning of Cork.
In fact, it was only last February that this happened but so much has happened — or, rather, not happened — in between that our sense of time has been skewed.
While 1920 had its fair share of negative happenings, the ledger was balanced somewhat with the birth of the greatest hurler of all-time, Christy Ring. Eight All-Ireland medals between 1941 and 1954 in a non-backdoor era, three of them as captain, is a record that speaks for itself, even if the bare stats don’t paint the full picture. To give his record context, it wouldn’t be until 1990 that Cork would win their eighth All-Ireland of the post-Ring era.
With Glen Rovers, whom he joined after moving to Cork from his native Cloyne, he won 14 county senior hurling medals and even claimed one football title with St Nicholas, despite expressing the view at one stage that every football to the east of Kinsale should have a knife stuck through it.
Of course, none of this is news to anyone reading this who knows a thing or two about Cork GAA. We mention it because, in order to mark the centenary of the great one’s birth, the Glen wore special jerseys in Saturday’s semier senior hurling championship win over St Finbarr’s at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Featuring a Ring watermark, the jerseys enjoyed a successful debut as the northsiders recorded a 3-20 to 0-15 win against their Togher rivals. Making things all the more fitting was the fact that the first two goals were scored by Simon Kennefick, who is the grandson of Christy Ring.
Glen man and 96FM GAA correspondent Finbarr McCarthy is a Coors Light man but this was more of a Carlsberg night for the Blackpool outfit, who will have given the other contenders for the Seán Óg Murphy Cup something to think about.
The beauty of the new system is that the Barrs will get a chance to atone for the defeat when they take on Na Piarsaigh and Carrigtwohill. After next weekend, the state of play in that group and every other one will be somewhat clearer, with things set up ahead of the final round of matches.
We wouldn’t bet against some qualification spots being decided on scoring-difference and we wonder if some teams might end up regretting the closing stages of the games they have lost.
Already, we have seen teams trailing by nine or 10 points go for goals in the vain hope of a miracle fightback, rather than sending over points and improving the scoring-difference situation to some degree.
It’s something that Cork minor hurling manager John Considine reflected on prior to last year’s championship, having seen his side miss out on a Munster final spot in 2018 by the narrowest of margins due to scoring-difference.
“You go back and think, ‘If we’d only converted that chance,’ or ‘If we’d stopped them on this chance.’
“Tipperary beat us by 10 points in Thurles and that’s what we were trying to overcome on the last day against Waterford. That’s a 20-point swing towards Tipperary and we still nearly did it, but it was a huge thing to do. Had we only lost that game by six points, things were different.”
That all lies ahead of course and we are aware that hindsight is always a lot clearer than foresight.
One final word, inspired by Brian Murphy of Bride Rovers, who led a fine defensive effort against Ballymartle at the age of 38, and 49-year-old (not a typo) Pat Nolan of Gabriel Rangers, who was up against Nemo Rangers’ Tomás Ó Sé (42) the previous week.
When I was young, a veteran player was one who looked every bit of it, usually wearing a knee strapping and cotton shorts that had a placket.
Nowadays, while we are told that it’s a young man’s game, the older players seem to be drinking some kind of serum and managing to look younger. They’ll have to reveal their secrets!