WHEN a large part of your job revolves around attending games and reporting on them, detached objectivity has to override any emotional attachments.
In 2010, David Coldrick’s final whistle signalled a one-point win for Cork in the All-Ireland football final against Down and there was joy unconfined for most of the Leesiders present in Croke Park as a 20-year wait for Sam Maguire came to and end. However, for us the primary immediate duty was to finish off the online match-tracker we had been compiling during the game.
Cork’s Munster hurling championship wins of 2017 and 2018 had to be treated in a similar way, professional overriding personal, and it was the same when Kilbrittain won the 2010 county IHC and the junior B football titles of 2009 and 2016.
We won’t lie, there have been game where Cork City have been trailing late on and, with a tight deadline, the report has been ready to go – an equaliser would obviously be welcome from a supporter’s point of view but it would result in a pressurised rewrite. We’re not saying we’re hoping it doesn’t happen, but…
The various reporting duties have led to Munster rugby games and international football matches as our primary outlets for being fans and it is an enjoyable released. Saturday brought another example of that as a day off from covering county championship GAA matches freed us up to – yes, you guessed it – attend a county championship GAA match.
Opportunities to go to Kilbrittain games are rare, though we are holding a record of not having witnessed them lose in the championship since the 2015 defeat to Charleville, who made it to senior in the time since.
Unfortunately, this year of all years, ‘the Ambers’ suffered a loss in form, experiencing defeats to Blackrock, Dungourney, Kildorrery and Milford. While that wouldn’t have been fatal in any of the recent years, the current campaign is important due to the restructuring for 2020 and so Kilbrittain were in danger of dropping to junior.
Not since the 1985 county junior final win over Cobh have Kilbrittain’s first team been junior and next year will be the 25th anniversary of the club’s greatest achievement, winning the intermediate title to go on to play at senior for four years.
However, the chance of marking that anniversary by dropping back to junior became all too real as Kilbrittain, Na Piarsaigh and Ballinhassig were the three teams that had to play off, with only one surviving and the other two dropping.
Na Piarsaigh’s five-point win over Ballinhassig the weekend before last meant that they were Kilbrittain’s first opponents, a game incidentally held in Ballinhassig, last Saturday. For Kilbrittain, the stakes were clear – lose and they were gone to junior.
Thankfully for the team and the club, when the need was greatest they pulled out a strong performance, winning by 4-16 to 2-6. The result means that Na Piarsaigh’s second team are back at junior and Kilbrittain face Ballinhassig next weekend in pole position to stay up, though an 11-point win for Ballinhassig would save them at Kilbrittain’s expense.
For us, Saturday’s match brought the freedom that comes from watching without a notebook and having to make sure you have every scorer right. Obviously, being paid to watch sport is not something we would ever complain about but a break is nice every once in a while. There were a few shouts of complaint towards the officials too – not something to be proud of but being partisan makes it spill out.
We won’t be at the Kilbrittain-Ballinhassig game next Saturday as we’re heading for Castlehaven’s grounds at Moneyvollahane instead – though it’s not work-related either. Instead, we’ll be participating in SCAR, the Skibbereen Charity Adventure Race, 58.5km of running, cycling and kayaking. We’d like to say that we’re looking forward to it but it’s probably more accurate to say that we’re looking forward to finishing it, if that eventuality materialises.
We can’t promise that next week’s column won’t be a blow-by-blow account of the blood, sweat and tears involved, but hopefully the county SHC final between Imokilly and Glen Rovers will provide better content for us to parse.