ANYONE who regularly reads this corner of the Echo (look how we’re getting used to the new title) on a Tuesday will know that we occasionally lament the lack of good GAA fiction.
Some redress was applied to that imbalance last summer with Tadhg Coakley’s fine novel The First Sunday in September, but then we should hardly be surprised that there is such a shortfall.
The fiction market in Ireland isn’t huge and – this isn’t sexism, but a fact – more of it is bought by women than men.
There is also a lack of good (association) football fiction and that should theoretically have a far larger pool to tap into.
One of the fine exceptions to the general rule is For Whom The Ball Rolls by Ian Plenderleith, a collection of short stories, most of which are on a sporting theme.
One of the excellent entries in that anthology is called Fitchy Gets The Point, which focuses on an individual who has allowed Leyton Orient to become far too big a part of his life.
Told from the point of view of a dispassionate housemate, the story ends with Fitchy coming home full of joy after Orient have secured a 2-2 home draw, having come from two goals down.
However, his mood is soon dampened by his colleague questioning how he can be so happy, having been gutted a fortnight before when the club also drew, but conceding a late equaliser on that occasion.
It’s hard to argue with the logic, that a draw is just that and should be treated so, but any supporter of a team knows that there are good draws and bad draws – it’s just that sometimes we don’t know until the next game which one it was.
Take Cork’s Allianz Football League Division 2 opener on Sunday, a draw with Fermanagh in Brewster Park in Enniskillen.
Ronan McCarthy’s side led by 0-4 to 0-1 at half-time, the Ernesmen not scoring from play in the opening period, and it was an equaliser from Conal Jones which secured a share of the spoils for the home side.
How good or bad a result was it for Cork?
The truth is that we won’t know until after this Sunday’s clash at home to Kildare, who also drew, at home to Armagh, making things very interesting.
If Cork win against the Lilywhites then three points with an away draw secured will be a grand state of affairs after two games.
However, if Cian O’Neill’s side take the points back up the M8 with them, then one point from two games will leave Cork under the pump even at such an early stage in the campaign.
Two years ago, Cork’s first game in Division 2 after relegation was a draw away to Galway, a game they should have won but which still felt like a strong result.
Unfortunately for Cork, for whatever reason they were the only team in the country to start the league with two away games and they travelled to Kildare for their second game, which ended in defeat. After that, promotion for Peadar Healy’s side was always going to be a long shot.
Without wishing to state the obvious too much, the positive from Sunday was that Cork only conceded eight points; the negative was that only 1-5 was registered at the other end, the goal from Matthew Taylor after Fermanagh had taken the lead.
Last week, Ronan McCarthy pinpointed the need to lower concession rates as a key objective for the league and the year as a whole and this was a good start.
Of course, the trick is to tighten up without that being an impediment to their attacking firepower. Hopefully, Sunday proves to be the lowest of their seven games in terms of scores registered but 1-5 won’t be enough to win many games.
Kildare’s result against Armagh, managed by former Lilywhites boss Kieran McGeeney, adds an extra layer of intrigue. Along with Donegal, Kildare are considered among the favourites for promotion and dropping a point at home won’t have been part of their plan.
While Sunday’s game is only the second round of the league, already it has the feeling of being a four-pointer in terms of determining the promotion contenders.