The Paudie Palmer column: With a host of clubs facing relegation the stakes in Cork are higher than ever

The Paudie Palmer column: With a host of clubs facing relegation the stakes in Cork are higher than ever
O'Donovan Rossa's Shane O'Driscoll trying to break away from Clonakilty's Jack O'Mahony. Picture Denis Minihane.

ON Monday afternoon, when the Cork County Board announced that they had appointed Ballyclough native and Munster Rugby strength and conditioning coach, Aidan O’Connell, as the county’s high performance manager, the markets responded in a positive fashion.

No sooner had Aidan’s appointment reached the airwaves, the social media folk were on hand to offer their blessing and to suggest that it would lead to all sorts of positive outcomes.

One individual, more or less, implied that it would enable a sleeping giant to awake from its slumber.

While all were breathing the positive air, Yours Truly headed down a different track. Awaking the sleeping giant only meant one thing, Cork to contest All-Ireland finals on a regular basis and winning a serious high quota.

Disaster comes to mind.

As you are aware, club action has resumed big time in Cork during the month of August and patrons have, in many instances, been treated to some high-quality action, particularly in the senior football competition. And remember not that long ago, this indigenous ball game was in the hearse.

The weather has been a contributing factor, but the closeness of the participants, has been the major contributor. Three of these big ball events and the senior hurling clash, between Glen Rovers and Charleville, required extra-time to find a winner.

I would like that an opportunity could be presented whereby replays would be part of the club scene.

Unfortunately, there is simply not enough of a window to allow for such comfort. A number of commentators may be of the opinion that the county board are at fault for this reduced time scale, particularly in light of the decision that there were no club championship matches played during June and July.

I would suggest that a little exercise, in salt smelling, could be called for. Does anybody really think that playing club matches is a possibility, while the inter-county teams are in action?

To be fair, when the GAA decided the inter-county roadshow should be expanded, if the memory serves me correctly, the Cork suits always expressed their concern.

While I am in rant mode, what was the real purpose of the Super 8s and where did the great demand for their introduction come from?

Not from the roots section, I can assure you, no sooner had this idea of things being better taken hold, the ash members decided that they weren’t going to be left behind and they succeeded in the creation of the Super 10s, if you wish, where both provincial championships were played off, in a round-robin scenario.

Again, and I am memory dependent, the Cork suits voiced their concerns. It was obvious, that the advent of both was another example of pushing club activity to the outer limits.

Back to this week’s appointment. Would qualifying for both senior All-Ireland finals be a reasonable objective?

I would like to think so.

Let us now examine the disastrous consequences, in a cool, calm, and collected manner!

No club games could be played in August. Could Cork complete its championship programme, in such a scenario?

I would doubt it.

Just as an indicator of what happened in Cork, during this month of August. The championship recommenced on Friday, August 2 and come Saturday night, 52% of the club teams that participate in the three main championships in both codes will have been served eviction notices, 33 in hurling and 26 in football.

Sometimes dear friends, be careful for what you wish for.

While all championship matches should, more or less, have the same value attached to them, this year’s events can, in some cases, have serious added value.

On Saturday evening, in Skibbereen, Clonakilty and O’Donovan Rossa met in a third-round game.

At the end of the hour, they were all square. After extra-time, this most entertaining encounter ended 3-14 (23) to 1-19 (22) in Clonakilty’s favour, the closeness of the contest throughout should indicate to you that these two sides are suited to the same championship dance. However, when it was all over, you could argue that both had moved to the opposite ends of the ability spectrum.

Not alone did victory guarantee Clonakilty’s presence in the senior quarter-final draw, it has ensured that they will play in the top grade senior competition in 2020, whereas their west Cork neighbours will paddle in the second stream.

Some victories are just more valuable than others.

This weekend, there are a number of similar encounters, probably the most interesting is the clash between Fermoy and Ilen Rovers, which throws in at 6.30pm in Brinny on Saturday.

As it is a third round clash, a place in the quarter-final beckons.

As mentioned previously, the Cork County Board produced a grading, at the start of the year, which was based on performance over the past five years. At the year-end, alterations will be made

Fermoy, last year’s premier intermediate champions were at number 19, in other words at the bottom.

No hope, you would think, of getting into the honours class. There was one other route, any team that qualified for this year’s quarter-final would be guaranteed a wild card entry.

We will take you back to the first round, Fermoy were pitted against Castlehaven, and in case you have forgotten, they created the first shock of this year’s event. A win this weekend and they are in with the big boys.

Ilen Rovers were in 11th position and I am not sure that such a standing would put them in the top groove, so to make sure, a Saturday victory is a must.

In hurling, Kanturk were graded 18th out of 19 with Ballyhea in 16th position. This Saturday, again at 6pm, these two basement dwellers will meet in Páirc Uí Rinn and by 8pm one of them will have jumped well beyond their present station.

No doubt, championship 2019 around these parts, is like no other!

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

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