The Paudie Palmer column: Cork minors prospered after a major change to the Munster football structure

The Paudie Palmer column: Cork minors prospered after a major change to the Munster football structure
Jack Lawton tackles Mayo's Mark Tighe. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

I’M NOT sure which Gaelic football story should be chosen as the entrance hymn for this week’s column.

Rebels rising or the Dubs’ uninterrupted climb to five in a row?

Possibly, better to start local and hats off to the Munster Council for this year’s new minor structure. Previously semi-final losers were graveyard bound and for the past number of years the penultimate stage had Cork and Kerry contesting one semi-final.

Yes Kerry did emerge victorious from all of the recent semi-finals, on the road to five in a row. In the majority of the encounters, the margin of victory was in the low digit numbers, which further highlighted the unfairness of the system.

This year, the Old Firm pairing met early on, unfortunately ending in a 16-point Kingdom romp to victory. Hard to believe now that Kerry are gone and this Cork team will take on Galway in an effort to win the county’s 11th minor title and the first since 2000.

Could we speculate for a moment and wonder how Cork football would have developed if the minor teams of the past five years were afforded an opportunity of a second chance? Let's stay postive. A number of interesting aspects emerged from their semi-final victory over Mayo.

We saw a contender for goal of the year when midway through the second half, Daniel Lenihan wearing the number three jersey, won possession somewhere in the middle third. I don’t think, I have ever seen a Castlemagner player travelling with such poise and purpose, certainly not at Croke Park.

When he arrived in close proximity to the Mayo goal he decided that he wasn’t going to be included in the assist section of the statistical report and his goal put Cork points up. A half a minute later, Ryan O’Donovan who had come off the bench, landed the first of his two points and in doing so, became the first from Barryroe to score with a big ball at the big pitch.

In actual fact, he is the first player from the west Cork club to play for a Cork football team.

Interestingly Jack Lawton, from the neighbouring Argideen Rangers club in Timoleague, is probably only the third player from his unit to represent Cork in a big ball contest. Evidence that amalgamations work perhaps, as these two lads play for Ibane Gaels, the franchise for youth development in both clubs.

Overall this was another step in the incremental upward growth curve of Cork football, at this stage we are nearly expecting such victories. It has been nothing short of a metamorphic turnaround.

Cork goalkeeper Cian O'Leary. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Cork goalkeeper Cian O'Leary. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

In the past, I’ve mentioned Cork educational establishments weren’t in the winners enclosure in the Corn Uí Mhuirí recently. You could argue if a school doesn’t play in this prestigious competition, it is not fulfilling its obligation to promote Gaelic football.

However, a lot of schools involved in the B and C tiers are doing a fine job. Last Sunday, when a Kerry 15 ran out on to Croke Park, six of them had attended Pobal Scoil Inbhear Scéine in Kenmare, an institution that has never participated in the much vaulted Corn Uí Mhuirí.

When Cork had done the business in Croke Park, it was time to fasten the seat belts and enter the space reserved for people whose second county of affiliation is Mayo. With the benefit of hindsight, we could ask how were we duped into believing that the impossible could happen.

This was a Mayo team that failed to win the Connacht title, had an infirmary that at times resembled a small field hospital. How more deluded could we have been, hoping the greatest Gaelic football team ever were to be denied by one of the greatest serial losers of all time.

At half-time and with Mayo leading by two we dared to dream.

Some who went for a celebratory drink at half time probably didn’t make it back to their seats in time to witness the shattering of the dream.

The Dubs came out and Con O’Callaghan had the white coat man waving green, and the nation’s white flag of surrender was quickly moving up the flag pole.

After the Cuala’s man two goals, there was no need to wait around for the end, it was all over now and when the scoreboard produced its final report, it was another all too familiar double-digit victory by the five in a row chasing blue army.

Sunday’s semi-final, had us waiting until the end, but did we see anything to suggest that Stephen Cluxton won’t climb the steps for the fifth year in a row, not really, nor did our turf accountant friends.

They made Kerry 7/2 to win on September 1 and Dublin 3/1 to win eight in a row!

Think about that for a moment. However, come the big day, we will probably take up residence in the deluded house once again, but for Cork people would Kerry denying Dublin their place in sporting immortality, bring everlasting peace?

I am not so sure!

CONTACT: or tweet @paudiep

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