The Paudie Palmer column: Croker trip to savour for Cork and Kerry football fans

The Paudie Palmer column: Croker trip to savour for Cork and Kerry football fans

Ryan O’Donovan is the first Barryroe player to line out at minor football level from Cork and sprung from the bench to hit 1-2 last weekend on Jones Road. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

I’M NOT sure where to start after last Sunday in Croke Park.

You could argue that the minor curtainraiser ticked most of the boxes on the sporting emotional spectrum, with its almost unbelievable finish. Then we experienced one of the most unscripted senior finals, in quite a while.

Maybe a trip back to the aftermath of the hurling decider may provide a starting cue. On that occasion, many in the hurling world were convinced that the red card event destroyed the final.

Possibly, but a strong case could be made for suggesting that it was a contributing factor to Sunday’s event being some epic contest. Were Dublin not relatively comfortable when Johnny Cooper was requested to leave?

Anyway, whether the card did contribute, positively or negativity, this was an awesome battle. I did notice a number enter into a social media discussion as to whether it was a classic, or otherwise.

Does it really matter?

How many vacated the TV lounges to do the ironing and bake three brown loaves?

Did anybody even enquire where the remote control was resting for the afternoon?

You know, there are individuals who attend big matches, armed with an early exit strategy. It might have to do with agricultural commitments, but in many cases it is to gain entry to the Guinness Book of Records, as to who was the first back at base.

We were sitting down in the Corbett Court, ordering the chicken curry, at 6.30pm!

In 1982, some Green and Gold folk were on the train south, when Seamus Darby decided it wasn’t to be a historic day. I haven’t a full list of the various departure times, but a very popular one of late is when the clock hits 70 minutes, last Sunday when it struck 78, all were still present.

As is nearly always the case when a contest involving seriously hot favourites ends in parity there is really only one comment — the underdogs threw it away.

Please don’t tell me that Kerry threw this one away. Yes, they could have won it, but my God there were a few occasions when Sam Maguire was enquiring as to where the blue ribbons were.

In the second half with Dublin leading by five, a ball that should have gone over the bar was pulled down by Kerry’s tall custodian Shane Ryan. Seconds later it was heading into the blue defensive military zone. David Byrne went skyward but because of a wee timing issue it fell. Tommy Walsh collected and a few seconds later, one of the Templenoe’s four representatives Killian Spillane bagged a brilliant goal.

That caused a rattling noise in the Dublin gearbox, which remained until the end. Yes, Kerry had chances in the opening half that they didn’t avail of, but these early chances were never going to see off this highly talented Dublin team.

However, when late on chances are taken, you are now in the realms of winning and losing. Dublin, had three or four golden opportunities prior to the 78th minute.

On the balance sheet, the statistic should show that Dublin should have won this one.

What will happen next?

Paper will absorb a lot of ink, the radio and TV punditry folk will, more than likely, build a case for Kerry claiming the one in a row. I would still think that most of the aces remain with the blue movement. They are a seriously talented group of players.

Of course, I hope I am wrong, but me thinks not!

As one who grew up in that remote hamlet of Templenoe in south Kerry, this particular All-Ireland final had a special attachment to it.

Tadhg Morley has listened to the experts declare that he is a member of the full-back line with defensive faculties. He will be handed the number three jersey again.

Dublin's Ciaran Kilkenny with Gavin White and Tadhg Morley of Kerry. Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Dublin's Ciaran Kilkenny with Gavin White and Tadhg Morley of Kerry. Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Gavin Crowley, only laid some claim to a starting jersey sometime last spring, and probably wouldn’t have got any look in were it not for the injury to Peter Crowley. He didn’t appear to be fazed by any form of stage lights.

Adrian Spillane was, at best, expected to be a squad member, but is now included in the first 15 discussions. His brother, Killian, would appear to be one of these rather talented individuals who wasn’t interested in grafting. He’s added that to the mix now.

All in all, whatever about the next day out, these four ensured that the memory of September 1 2019 will live for quite a while, in the memory of the few hundred people, who populate this most rural of rural outposts.

We began by mentioning the minor success, and honestly, it is quite hard to comprehend this turn around in Cork football fortunes.

Galway's Ethan Fiorentini and Patrick Campbell of Cork. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Galway's Ethan Fiorentini and Patrick Campbell of Cork. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Of course, that term itself may be somewhat misleading, because there are different barometers when measuring any sporting revival.

Some, of course, may believe or want to believe, that two underage All-Ireland titles won in the same year will automatically ensure Sam Maguire bonfires.

Nothing could be further from reality.

However given the lack of interest in Gaelic football as a sport of choice for young Cork people in recent years, there can be no overstating the importance of the two recent captures.

Right now, kids and teenagers are prepared to invest their time in developing their skills in Gaelic football again, whereas a few short months ago the voices were only filled with negative utterings.

For all those players and their families, last Sunday’s adventure will take some topping, but for two players that experience was taken to a new level.

Daniel Lenihan from Castlemagner and Ryan O’Donovan, Barryroe are the first from their respective clubs to play with a Cork minor football team. The Castlemagner youngster has had an unbelievable season, the highlight being the goal in the semi-final against Mayo.

In O’Donovan’s case, whose club would be in the hurling part of west Cork, he was a late sub, but what an impact he had.

From the throw-in at the start of extra time, the ball made it’s way to Michael O’Neill, who laid it across the front of the Galway goal, O’Donovan took it and with the left foot steered it home.

Just before the half-time break, in this extra-time segment, he landed a point, again with his left, and on the resumption he did likewise, this time with the right foot.

Some contribution by a footballer from hurling land. Yes folks, facing into the winter nights, at least we can say that the Cork football lamp is lighting again and for the moment that will do.

CONTACT: paudie.palmer@hotmail.com or tweet @paudiep

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