The Paudie Palmer column: Reducing the number of senior clubs is a positive

The Paudie Palmer column: Reducing the number of senior clubs is a positive
Brian Dwyer, Ballymartle, tries to block a clearance by Niall Cashman, Blackrock, in the SHC last year. Picture: Larry Cummins

WHEN we put the scribbling tools down after last week’s column, I was under the impression that our final reference to Allianz 2019 had been filed.

However, would it not be a tad unfair, not to acknowledge the triumphs of both Limerick and Mayo, in the big finals on Sunday?

Limerick’s first title in 22 years, coupled to the fact that last September, they won their first all Ireland in 45 years, will ensure that regardless of what happens in the future, this group of hurlers have ensured that they will forever be remembered fondly, by the sporting public of this small county.

It is a while since we witnessed supporters shed tears of joy at the conclusion of a Division 1 League final. Mayo folk cried on Sunday.

Not only did Mayo celebrate, but I would also think that it was another good weekend for those who follow the fortunes of Gaelic football.

I know, I have already made reference to an apparent change in the type of football being played in this league and further evidence of this change was provided, not only by the Mayo-Kerry game but also by the excellent clash between Donegal and Meath. 

In relation to Mayo, it is rather difficult to comprehend, that they had lost nine finals in Croke Park since they won their last one in 2001.

For some of course, particularly among their own most loyal of fans, they will want to view this victory as some form of a positive indicator, that Sam would visit them again since his last call 68 years ago.

A little context in this regard could very well have been provided by a chat that the column had with one of their followers on Saturday when he informed me that beating Kerry was no real deal, in this northwestern county anymore.

He followed on by mentioning that until they secure championship wins, over either Galway or Dublin, their stock will not rise that much in the county.

So now we know how some Mayo folk view themselves, they are ahead of the Kingdom, but behind their neighbours and the all-conquering Dubs, in the great scheme of things.

Aidan O'Shea and his Breaffy team mate Rob Hennelly celebrate. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Aidan O'Shea and his Breaffy team mate Rob Hennelly celebrate. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

We are not going to delve too much into what the defeat means to the neighbours, but was there anything in there for Cork? Ok, let us go with this, if Cork were to defeat Tipperary on June 1, they will then play Kerry in a Munster final. Of course, nobody believes that Cork would beat them, but if there was any chance, it is now well and truly evaporated.

How often has it been mentioned that teams can learn more from defeat that than they do in victory? Peter Keane has promised that lessons will be learned, enough said.

Not sure, what we can bring to the debate on the proposed new county championship structure, due to come into effect in 2020.

These few lines are being put on paper prior to Tuesday night’s board meeting, so we are not sure what angle we should pursue. The three options got plenty of airing and for this corner, if I had a choice it would be Option A, where one of the league championship games are played in April and two in the autumn.

Of course, there is some understanding as to why the club players need to be treated better, in terms of fixtures, but playing championship games without county players should not be one. The thin end of the wedge phenomenon should not be understated.

About 15 years ago, yours truly was in attendance at a school staff meeting, when the issue of the date for returning to school after the summer holidays was an item for discussion.

Prior to that, all schools reopened on the first Monday in September and on occasions that could be any date up to September 6.

Anyway, during the debate, one gentleman suggested that if the September 1 barrier was broken, it was just the famous thin end.

How right he was, some schools are now opening shortly after the August 15 fair day in Kenmare.

Anyway, whatever happened on Tuesday night, the whole exercise could also be viewed as a masterstroke in diversion.

I am not saying that Kevin O’Donovan and his fellow members of his Strategic Review Group intended it as such, but look at what was taken as a given.

Relegation is back, without as much as a whimper, but what is amazing if you wish is that for 2020 and beyond, it appears that only 12 clubs will have a chance of winning the Andy Scannell in senior football or the Seán Óg Murphy in senior hurling.

That figure is down from 19 that will begin the journey for this year’s capture. Accepting the fact that of the 19, only a handful really have a chance of winning either of them, it took some amount of planning to reduce that number by seven, without as much as the single firing of a tennis ball.

Tracey Kennedy arriving for Tuesday's board meeting. Picture: Dan Linehan
Tracey Kennedy arriving for Tuesday's board meeting. Picture: Dan Linehan

Going back to the options, one line of commentary doing the rounds was that in some way Croke Park were involved in getting Option C on the choice list, the one in relation to the playing of championship matches without the county players.

Sometimes I am not sure as to the origin of this category of story, maybe or maybe not, it might fit with some people’s narrative that Croke Park is now in charge of everything that happens around these parts.

It has been a while since the operations at divisional level have come to our attention. You do remember, of course, that not that long ago, there appeared to be some apathy at senior suit level, as to their place in the county governing order.

It appears that their position is somewhat more appreciated and with a county the size of Cork, I would think that they have a serious role to play, not alone in fixture making but in other developmental areas.

In light of that, it was interesting that the Carbery Board in west Cork recently organised a coaching workshop, which had some interesting contributions and the fact that it was attended by the county CEO, also sent out positive vibes. Good to see, the divisions are diversifying their activities and even better that central government is seen to be supportive.

CONTACT: @paudiep

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