DELIGHT is the best word to describe the feeling when it became apparent that Laois were going to be denied entry into the exclusive club by a Rebel forward wave.
Cork’s place in the Super 8s was secured at Semple Stadium. And in some style.
Last week, I did express gratitude to the Lord for delivering the O’Moore county as the final question in the exam to gain acceptance to dine at the big table. But it was a question with risks attached.
Can you just imagine the fallout if Laois had emerged victorious? It doesn’t bear thinking about my friends.
The five-year plan would be seeking its first extension.
Anyway, back to my first word. I was delighted for the entire playing and management panel, who undoubtedly have suffered more than their fair share of despair, ridicule and isolation.
In many cases, it was from so-called GAA members whose state of health appeared to be greatly enhanced by tales of the Rebel football decline.
I’m delighted for the families of the personnel involved, the past period of time cannot have been easy for them either. Delighted also for those supporters, not a huge number now mind you, who have given Cork football their loyal support in the past few most challenging years.
Delighted too for those whose objective includes ensuring that Gaelic football is afforded parity of esteem, in relation to hurling.
I mentioned being delighted for the players, but a little bit extra was reserved for Brian Hurley. This young man’s issues with injuries are well documented, but maybe what is not as well known, is his total obsession with Gaelic football.
Of course, many sports people would have obsession issues, but this talented young man takes it to a new level. It is his calling card, his brand, it is what defines him.
Actually, you would have concerns for his well-being if he wasn’t a practitioner. To add to this I am well aware of his inbuilt sense of decency.
Can you imagine how we would feel if he raised a green flag on this Saturday night? At this stage, you might ask if all is rosy in the Cork football garden again, and that the five-year plan could be shelved.
Not at all, there is the same degree of urgency required to raise the big ball stock within the county, but the injection of positivity should provide some impetus and inspiration to the many people who are driving this.
Just to give an example of how this latest victory has made an impact on the general public. While scribbling this week’s offering, I received a call from an individual, who witnessed one of Saturday evening’s top performers arriving into a shop in West Cork.
On entry the owner who presented him with two complimentary steaks, to ensure that he might raise a green flag or two this Saturday in the big pitch.
Now that the year’s objective has been realised in terms of what was expected of this team, do we view the three upcoming games in the Super 8s as a series of challenge games, where Cork can go out and enjoy themselves, without worrying about the issues that can be associated with losing.
Many experts feel that when the last whistle blows, after the Roscommon game, that Cork will be in fourth place in the group and there is no point in starting a song and dance about this viewpoint. I am not sure.
We can take it that Jim Gavin’s team will emerge victorious, but the game that may prove really significant is the meeting in Hyde Park, between Roscommon and Tyrone.
If that were to happen, it would more than likely set in motion a set of results which would ensure that Cork’s final game against the Rossies would be a live issue and would be played in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, before a sizeable attendance.
Roscommon, a county that Cork owe a bit of a beating to, as I would contend the defeat that they inflicted on Cork: 4-25 to 3-15, back in February 2016, went a long way towards this county losing Division 1 status.
Eight of that Cork team that were in action that day played against Laois. Mention of last weekend and one negative was the departure of Killian O’Hanlon, due to injury.
As he showed against Kerry, this player from the high ground in Kilshannig, is an honest grafter who wouldn’t be a serious contender for shrinking violet of the month award! In the Kerry and Laois game, the team’s on-field general, Ian Maguire, was immense and it will be interesting to see how he will fare against Dublin’s leading light, in this sector, Brian Fenton.
If the pundits are totally convinced of the outcome against Dublin, there is some wriggle room in the debate as to who will win between Cork and Kilkenny on Sunday.
I think that Cork will prevail here, simply because they are a better team than what operates in the black and amber striped uniform these days. Cork’s extended panel, which can call on a number of talented ones in, from the bench going down the home straight, is a major bonus.
Couple that to a number of statistics over the past few years, which show a strong indication of some Kilkenny decline. Losing a championship match in Nowlan Park for the first time in ages, losses to Limerick and Waterford were never Kilkenny’s way. Now it’s three years without a Leinster title.
Indeed, it could be argued that this side from the banks of the Nore is fighting above its weight, principally due to the influence of the mighty, TJ Reid. At this remove, a spirited display against the Dubs, followed by getting over Kilkenny would tick this weekend’s boxes.
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