The Paudie Palmer: It's getting increasingly difficult to put a gloss on the Cork football situation

The Paudie Palmer: It's getting increasingly difficult to put a gloss on the Cork football situation
Conor Dennehy lays off the ball to Ruairí Deane and Mark Collins. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

IN a sporting sense, I think it is rather sad that the Allianz show is for all intents and purposes at an end, particularly the football version.

If the GAA were allowed to begin from scratch and were tasked with the responsibility of developing a league system that was fair and equitable, it would do very well to come up with a better model. Pity now in a way that, when it is all over, the championship programme which is meant to carry us through the summer will not have the same degree of equality.

For a moment, let us cast our minds back and reflect on what this year’s league brought to the knowledge pool. We will leave the Cork story for a little later.

Not in any order, but have Tyrone decided to add a serious threat to their attacking option. For the first three rounds, Mickey Harte and his fellow advisors appeared to be convinced that the short-passing, defensive strategy was the way to go.

Tyrone's Matthew Donnelly firing a pass. Picture: INPHO/Lorcan Doherty
Tyrone's Matthew Donnelly firing a pass. Picture: INPHO/Lorcan Doherty

Whether by accident or design, they started using a kicking policy, which had ball dropping into their opposition full-back lines like never before. It paid dividends and, on the last day, they had an outside chance of making the final. A few other counties would also appear to have bought into this strategy and, when you add in the playing style adopted by Corofin, when demolishing Nemo Rangers and Dr Crokes, in the last two All-Ireland club finals, maybe things are a changing in the big-ball world.

I should mention that, while this apparent change to a longer-kicking game in Gaelic football, I notice one or two from the hurling side of the house bemoaning the change to a passing game in their chosen sport. A recent tweet from Michael Duignan read: “I know that I would be considered old school by the modern men, but the short passing in hurling is gone away over the top.”

It will be interesting to note how these changes will pan out over the summer championship.

I’m not convinced by the next observation, but for some, the performances of Kerry and Mayo in the league, coupled with the fact that Dublin’s lost three of their seven engagements, have added currency to the notion that the blue drive for five may not be the foregone conclusion, that we thought it was earlier. I still remain to be convinced that Sam will be fitted for any colour, other than blue, when the 2019 season comes to an end.

Next up, the job specification that now attaches to being an inter-county football goalkeeper. Stephen Cluxton will always get the credit for adding value, in terms of long-distance, point-scoring from frees. I would imagine, that a visit to the statistic laboratory would inform us that during the league just completed, a record number of points were scored by members of the cúlbáire union.

All very fine you might add, but for two of them, Rory Beggan, Monaghan, and Niall Morgan, Tyrone, a few have begun to question their number one line of duty, which is to prevent the opposition scoring goals. According to some, both of these gentlemen were at fault for one or two green flags lately.

Now to Cork.

Firstly, I can’t say with conviction I am surprised that for 2020 they will take up residence in the Division 3 mansion. At the start of the campaign, I couldn’t point to any team and say Cork will definitely defeat them.

Not wishing to prolong the agony, there is absolutely no certainty that Cork will be availing of an early flight from their new posting in 12 months. The mathematics are simple: Cork, like all other teams will play seven games and the most they can afford to lose and still be promoted is two.

Thomas Clancy battles Liam Casey of Tipperary. Picture; Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Thomas Clancy battles Liam Casey of Tipperary. Picture; Matt Browne/Sportsfile

For the record, their new housemates for the coming season will be Tipperary, Leitrim, Derry, Westmeath, Louth, Longford and Offaly. As a matter of interest, the only county that the column cannot remember Cork playing in the past is Leitrim. I know that the large number that are members, of the Cork cynical football species will want to have a discussion around the possibility of Cork making another downward movement.

Some of them will point to Derry, who, to the shock of their supporters, found themselves moving to Division 4 this time last year. Thankfully, for them, their stay was only for a 12-month period.

If four points is the maximum you can drop and be promoted, six is the number a county would require to avoid relegation. For your homework this week, select three counties that Cork should, with a fair degree of certainty, defeat next season.

Maybe, not as easy as you thought. I think at this stage, we should park the story until 2020. The next hurdle is the semi-final of the Munster championship.

I suppose the first fact that should be presented is that this championship is already home and hosed for our Kingdom friends. Their next real competitive championship game will be their opening game in the Super 8s. Cork’s next outing will be against Tipperary in Cork on June 1, provided the Premier County defeat Limerick on Saturday, May 11, in Thurles.

The fact that Tipperary were also relegated may provide some solace to Cork’s followers, but one must remember that for the majority of the league, the Tipp men were without a number of leading players. Getting a gloss paint for this situation is quite challenging.

It has been a while since the happenings at the Rebel parliament has found its way to this page, but on two fronts, there has been some positivity. The decision to offer a discounted, early-season match ticket to cover all games played over a two-month period, at the cost of €50, is welcome.

Pat Horgan, Tracey Kennedy and Kevin O'Donovan, Cork County Board. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Pat Horgan, Tracey Kennedy and Kevin O'Donovan, Cork County Board. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Also, reports coming our way from the strategic review of the County Board competitions would appear to fit into the good-news section. 

Meaningful and realistic consultation has appeared to be part of the process, which should go some way in producing a more streamlined structure. We must remember, though, that because of the size of the county and the dual mandate, there is simply no perfect solution, but there is a better one than currently exists.

CONTACT: paudie.palmer@ or tweet @paudiep

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