THE decision to include Sean Powter in the starting 15 for Cork’s do-or-die Division 2 game against Armagh on Sunday at 2pm is real last-throw-of-the-dice territory.
The Douglas speedster hasn’t started for Cork, or indeed his club since the opening game in the league at the end of January last season, when Powter sustained a serious hamstring injury, which blighted his 2018.
He was introduced as a substitute after 54 minutes in both the loss to Meath and the victory over Tipperary in addition to coming on late in the Donegal defeat last week.
Powter’s inclusion is a direct replacement for the injured Luke Connolly, who, along with goalkeeper and club colleague, Micheál Aodh Martin, and captain Ian Maguire didn’t finish the Donegal tie due to injuries.
The St Finbarr’s midfielder is named in the side, but must undergo a fitness first before teaming up with Killian O’Hanlon.
Cork have handled Powter’s return delicately, guided by the medical experts who have outlined a plan of recovery which has been measured in great detail.
Whether he’s capable of lasting 70 minutes is highly unlikely, but the hope for manager Ronan McCarthy and company is that Powter can have a positive influence on the team’s display.
There are two changes in personnel in defence and a few positional switches, too.
Mark White takes over from Martin between the posts and Kevin Flahive is named at right corner-back in place of Sam Ryan, having been centre-back against Donegal.
Clonakilty’s Tom Clancy remains at full-back with Fermoy’s Tomás Clancy selected at centre-back, having been a used substitute a week ago.
Apart from Powter’s return, the forwards remain en bloc from the Donegal tie while John O’Rourke has been added to the substitutes.
CORK: M White (Clonakilty); K Flahive (Douglas), T Clancy (Clonakilty), C Dennehy (St Finbarr’s); K Crowley (Millstreet), T Clancy (Fermoy), M Taylor (Mallow); I Maguire (St Finbarr’s), captain, K O’Hanlon (Kilshannig); E McSweeney (Knocknagree), S Powter (Douglas), R Deane (Bantry Blues); M Hurley (Castlehaven), M Collins (do), P Kerrigan (Nemo Rangers).
Subs: C Kelly (Éire Óg), K O’Donovan (Nemo Rangers), S Ryan (St Finbarr’s), S Cronin (Nemo Rangers), C Kiely (Ballincollig), K O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaighs), R O’Toole (Éire Óg), S White (Clonakilty), J O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers), D Gore (Kilmacabea), B Hurley (Castlehaven).
Meanwhile, it’s hard not to deflect to the county convention last December and Glen Rovers’ incendiary motion to get rid of the divisions and colleges from the senior championships.
You could almost feel the daggers being plunged into Glen delegate Jude O’Callaghan, who outlined the reasons behind his club’s thinking because the level of opposition was quite tangible.
By the time everyone who wanted to get their tuppence worth across it was inevitable the Glen’s motion would be blown out of the sky.
Last Monday, the SFC for the divisions and colleges started, run on the usual knock-out basis with no back-door for the losers.
According to eye-witness reports there were more players than spectators at some games.
The apathy shown by the public towards Cork football is widely known and there is simply little or no interest shown in attending these matches, not even from clubs supplying players to the representative teams.
You suspect even family members are disillusioned, though they will probably point to the timing of the games, 24 hours after the St Patrick’s Day celebrations, as the main reason for turning their backs.
Of course, generalisations can be dangerous. Take Duhallow, for instance. There’s no denying the north-west combination take their football very seriously.
Last season’s beaten finalists took care of business against Imokilly, whose return must be welcomed and while heavily beaten as expected, scoring 13 points was encouraging.
It’s the turn of the hurling equivalent on Tuesday night.
The turn-out is expected to be a lot more (it couldn’t be any lower, to be fair), but to what extent is the moot question.