TOMORROW should have been a coronation of sorts for the Cork footballers.
They would have headed off this afternoon for Longford, their final round opponents in Division 3 with promotion already in the bag.
Under normal conditions, Ronan McCarthy’s side would have been keeping an eye elsewhere on their likely final opponents, a game scheduled for next Saturday at Croke Park.
But, we live in a completely different world now because of the coronavirus pandemic and everything has changed.
For example, take the hotel, where Cork would have over-nighted.
It’s probably closed now, owners, staff and locals all, no doubt, concerned by not only the hotel’s future, but their own, as well.
Cork needn’t worry about the postponement of the final and I’m sure they’ve a lot more important concerns than football just now.
There’s a week to go before the GAA’s decision to shut down all activities is reviewed, but you don’t have to be a member of Mensa to figure out what the next steps are going to be.
Croker officials will either extend the ban to April or indefinitely because the huge imposition on people’s lives is poised to extend well into the summer.
When the organisers look back on what has to be played in the league they will see two rounds of games plus four finals.
And that’s not even mentioning in any detail April supposedly being a club-only month.
Completing the leagues is a prerequisite for the summer championship given the planned introduction of the Tailteann Cup for teams in Divisions 3 and 4.
Cork’s expected promotion would have guaranteed a place in the main championship event, the race for the Sam Maguire Cup.
Okay, they could also qualify by defeating Kerry in the Munster semi-final, but we’ll put that on hold a while.
Cork and Longford wouldn’t meet that often, the most recent in round three of the All-Ireland qualifiers in July 2016, when Peadar Healy was Cork manager.
Cork made the long journey and appeared to be some bother after turning around 1-4 to 0-3 down, having not score since Michael Hurley’s 10th-minute point.
The Castlehaven player shoved Cork 0-3 to 0-1 in front, but Longford bossed the remainder of the opening period and were boosted by a Brian Kavanagh goal from a penalty.
But, the introduction of Colm O’Neill and Pa Kelly for the second-half paid an immediate dividend as Cork swept to 1-4 without reply.
Between them the added 1-2 with O’Neill goaling in the 50th minute after being set up by another substitute Sean Powter.
Kelly was the creator of the second goal just before the hour as Ian Maguire made the game safe for the visitors.
Cork’s opening score of the second half was their first in 34 minutes, a reflection of the difficulty they were experiencing against the fired-up locals.
O’Neill was top scorer for Cork with 1-1 followed by Maguire’s goal, a couple of points apiece from Mark Collins and Paul Kerrigan and one each from James Loughrey, Hurley, Kelly and John O’Rourke.
The Rebels were subsequently beaten in the next round at Croke Park by Donegal, despite a bright start, where, interestingly, Alan Cadogan was a late sub having linked up with the panel after the hurlers' exit to Wexford.
Cork’s team was: R Price (O’Donovan Rossa); C O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaighs), E Cadogan (Douglas), N Galvin (Ballincollig); B O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaighs), J Loughrey (Mallow), T Clancy (Fermoy); A O’Connor (St Colum’s), I Maguire (St Finbarr’s); K O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaighs), M Collins (Castlehaven), M Hurley (do); D Goulding (Eire Og), P Kelleher (Kilmichael), P Kerrigan (Nemo Rangers), captain.
Subs: S Powter (Douglas) for B O’Driscoll, C O’Neill (Ballyclough) for Goulding, P Kelly (Ballincollig) for K O’Driscoll, J O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers) for Kelleher, R Deane (Bantry Blues) for O’Connor, S Cronin (Nemo Rangers) for O’Neill.