THREE weekends in and the elephant, despite his presence, may as well not be there.
With the number of worldwide Covid-19 cases skyrocketing, the GAA world continues to operate in an almost parallel universe.
In a four-day period last week, the number of new cases hit over a million with major lockdowns put in place in many countries including parts of the Boris empire, and yet not one club championship has bit the dust since the opening game in Wexford almost four weeks ago.
Honestly, one has to wonder, how long will this continue?
The acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn reminded us, that if the number of daily cases rose to 100, the nation would have to revert back to step two of the reopening phase.
With the daily average now nearing 50 at the time of scribbling, it’s only natural to harbour genuine fears.
Let’s be fair, it not only on the GAA fields that the sense of detachment prevails, it’s in almost every aspect of Irish life.
Time to show a little gratitude to the good folks over in the sister publication whose live streaming of a number of county championships games during these strange times is a most welcome development and as mentioned previously, there is a strong possibility that regardless of how Covid-19 does or does not play out, this method of getting our fix from club matches could very well be the way of the future.
As a resident in Valley Rovers land coupled with the fact that a Covid-19 cocooner is now surplus to societal requirements, it was a most welcome experience to view their hurling engagement with the blue neighbours from Ballinhassig from the TV lounge.
It has been a while since I saw either team in the flesh, but not long after throw-in, I noticed a guy with a rather unique style of movement where maximum distance is covered with each stride, but no, it couldn’t have been him, as I am sure that the player that crossed my mind could have been around in the era of the black and white TV.
Out of curiosity, I sent a query to a Ballinhassig supporter who was the proud owner of the seriously valued admission slip.
Yes, it was Brendan Lombard, put it like this, if Our Lord wanted to hang around as long, he would have had to apply for a seven-year extension.
Some length of service, an injury prevented him from finishing the encounter, but one gets the impression that he is not yet finished with wearing the blue uniform.
Ballinhassig were the dominant side before and after the first water break and at the interval, it appeared to be the case, that the only issue at stake was the magnitude of the victory margin.
Valleys went to the pine seating and Cormac Desmond was given the slip.
The big man made an immediate impression and the long ball strategy which failed to yield dividends in the first half was now in profit mode.
They added six white flags to their half-time tally without interruption from the first-half market leaders and they now lead by two.
Then the drama scriptwriter decided to enter the fray, Desmond was fouled and for the resulting penalty, two Cork senior hurling panellists took centre stage.
Chris O’Leary was doing the striking with Michael Collins moving along the goal line. Collins saved.
Any match can have one penalty, this one decided to add value by having a second.
Not sure how many candles Fintan O’Leary had on his last celebratory cake, but akin to Brendan Lombard, he has given some service to his club.
Five minutes from the end, the well- built Fintan was fouled and this time Patrick Collins had the opportunity of making it easier for the headline writers.
A chance to join that elusive club of individuals who have saved and scored penalties in the one match.
His effort just went outside the upright. The match was still there to be won and lost.
Substitute Cillian Tyres got in for his second Richard Lombard, who was impressive throughout landed his third.
Ballinhassig were two in front at the final sounding. Next weekend they face Watergrasshill who came from two points down and a man down at the second water break to beat Ballincollig by four.
A victory for either side will have a scent of qualification in the nostrils.
Valleys for their part will face the aforementioned Ballincollig where the defeated ones could have the sulphur of relegation to contend with.
Tight margins are very much part of Cork’s new championship format.