LEAVING aside the game itself – and it sure was a cracker – Cork and Limerick in Páirc Uí Chaoimh showed the merit of rebuilding the stadium.
The atmosphere, noise and colour, created by waves of red and green throughout the sold-out stands and packed terraces and the odd flare, the first-class facilities which mirror Croke Park, and the sense of occasion, despite the tie not being knockout, made it special.
Granted anyone who parked in the vicinity of the Páirc spent a while sitting in traffic, scrolling through Twitter, afterwards, but that couldn’t be helped when there were 34,607 present. The boost to the city that high-profile championship games bring is worth more than the money generated for Rearden’s and the rest of the bars which were mobbed on Saturday night.
With the marathon and the Ocean to City race on over the June Bank Holiday weekend, the hurling was the centre-piece of a terrific few days. As Cork fans we were a bit disappointed by the team’s failure to finish off Limerick with an extra, especially when they’d allowed Tipp back into it the week before.
However, they’re still in a strong position to reach the Munster final. They’re unbeaten in six provincial games in a row across two seasons and a win over Waterford in Thurles on Sunday week will seal a top-two place in the round robin series.
We’d have all taken that before a ball was pucked.
The hurling fanatics in Rebel county have been spoiled by the three exciting games in 13 days but we’ll have to look elsewhere for our fix this weekend. Kilkenny and Wexford at Nowlan Park on Saturday should be tasty, likewise Tipp-Clare and Limerick-Waterford on Sunday.
The Munster football final is on a Saturday evening, June 23, in Páirc Uí Chaoimh and that should be lively, even if Kerry fired a warning shot by massacring Clare in Killarney. Ronan McCarthy’s underdogs will give it everything and for the casual supporter that would be enough.
Whatever about the result, the city will be buzzing before and after.
I’d love to see the Páirc used even more.
Twice in recent months, a proposed U7 blitz on the astro-turf pitch was pulled at short notice. The first was due to a regatta, the second because the Cork-Tipp Munster camogie final was brought forward from 3.30pm to 1.30pm.
That in itself was unusual. The two-hour shift in throw-in time was necessitated by the fact perennial All-Star Orla Cotter was getting married the same day. Originally the camogie tie was due to be played on the previous weekend, but had to go to the same Saturday as the wedding to facilitate it being hosted in the Páirc.
That meant a share of the Cork team were rushing off after to be at the reception, though at least their spirits would have been buoyed by the comprehensive victory.
Regardless, while St Michael’s were good enough to accommodate the U7s when the Páirc option fell through, there was huge disappointment for the players, and indeed the mentors, they weren’t getting their trip to the big house. The event is set to be rescheduled and the age group is actually in line to play a blitz there this Saturday. Hopefully, it all runs smoothly.
The astro-turf pitch has been put to good use over the past year, hosting numerous Rebel Óg Monster blitzes, schools games and club matches. How suitable the artificial surface is for hurling in the long term is up for debate, as the bounce of the sliotar is very different, and more importantly, the hard ground is gruelling on players.
The Cork hurling community has been frustrated the main stadium has remained closed to all bar the elite teams and the county finals. It might not be financially viable to regularly allow teams in the Páirc, but given the outlay on the redevelopment in the first place, it should be utilised wherever possible.
There was a suggestion a couple of the Sciath na Scol days would take place there, and this week that came to pass. Páirc Uí Rinn is ideal for the Sciath finals, perfect for the small but raucous crowds, and the weather has been idyllic.
Yet the thrill the primary school kids, along with the teachers and parents, will get from hurling at Páirc Uí Chaoimh is priceless.