ONE of the off field talking points surrounding last Sunday’s Cork SHC final was the attendance of just 5,536.
One does not have the attendance figures down through the years available but it is safe to assume that this was the smallest final attendance for many a long day, if not the smallest ever.
On Monday morning the point was made by a colleague that the Harty Cup final between Midleton CBS and CBC last Spring attracted a bigger attendance to the same venue. Someone stated that there was a bigger attendance at the Laurels final on Saturday night than there was at Páirc Uí Rinn but that's probably an exaggeration.
The football final next Sunday is likely to attract a small attendance too, probably less than the hurling final but the curtain-raiser to Nemo and Duhallow will increase the numbers.
Eire Og will bring in a big following from Ovens and the surrounding areas while St Michael’s have a good, handy bunch of followers coming up from the Blackrock and Mahon areas.
The County Board had pencilled in Blackrock and Aghabullogue in the IHC semi-final but the draw between Michael’s and Kanturk a week previous changed that plan Of course, the original plan to play the County PIHC final as the curtain-raiser to the Glen and Imokilly was scuttled too because of the dual involvement of the Fr O’Neill’s players.
So, the County Board’s hands were tied as far a hurling curtain-raiser to the big game went.
Of course, a divisional team’s participation in a final does affect the attendance because traditionally divisional teams don’t generate the kind of support that a club team has.
You had a big counter-attraction on TV with Liverpool and Utd and half hearted followers might well decide on the TV rather than forking out €20 for the county final.
Is that admission fee too much? People will have different viewpoints on that and the County Board will argue that you are getting two games.
But let’s be honest, the Glen and Imokilly followers hadn’t the slightest bit of interest in Kanturk and St Michael’s and vice versa.
Now if you had the PIHC final as a curtain-raiser, €20 for those two games was something that you could not argue with.
Of course, long gone are the days of 25 and 30,000 fans going through the turnstiles for county finals.
Even if it had been a Glen-Barrs final or a Rockies, Glen or Barrs final last Sunday you still would not come close to matching the attendance levels of those bygone eras.
There are too many counter-attractions these days and people pick and choose their destinations on a Sunday afternoon.
Imokilly have the three-in-a-row in the bag now and the inevitable question to pose is, can they make it four?
A few things will be different next season, there will be a new team manager after the departure of the excellent Fergal Condon and there may be a whole new management team if the others are not involved as well.
And they are going to be a very hard act to follow. Condon’s and their organisational skills were second to none and the players were more than willing to come on board and buy into the project.
Eight of the 30 man panel listed in the final programme will be gone too, the Fr O’Neill’s contingent of five and the Cloyne gang of three.
Replacing the likes of Deccie Dalton, Ger Millerick, Mark O’Keeffe and Paudie O’Sullivan for starters will not be easy.
But counteracting that negative is the plus of having Colm Spillane, Niall O’Leary and Ciaran O’Brien and Barry Lawton back in the frame.
They are four very serious hurlers.
Add in from the bench last Sunday, Brian Mulcahy and Dan Mangan and young guns like Shane O’Regan, Joe Stack and Liam O’Shea and you have another very formidable unit.
The likes of Colm Barry, John Cronin, Brian Lawton and Seamie Harnedy have three medals tucked away now.
Will they be as motivated again to try and make it four and if they are you have a very firm base to build on again.
Despite all the aforementioned, the East Cork divisional team will still be very strong and if they are as organised as they have been for the past three years, they’ll be there or thereabouts again.