Will Imokilly's win be a good omen for Cork like it was in 1999?

Will Imokilly's win be a good omen for Cork like it was in 1999?
Blackrock’s Niall Cashman and Seamie Harnedy of Imokilly. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

YOU know the weather is really bad when GAA games are called off, as happened at the weekend.

Local soccer matches are far more susceptible to heavy rain, given that the game is played primarily on the ground, but it takes a lot for a football or hurling encounter to go by the wayside.

We recall one trip to Clare during the bad floods in 2009, when Valley Rovers, having won the county PIFC, were in Munster club against Cratloe. 

The passenger with us, a proud Valleys woman, was getting notions, with each passing field-turned-lake, of spending a relaxing afternoon in the spa at Dromoland Castle, but her reverie was smashed by the fact that the game went ahead in a gale of wind. 

She did at least have the consolation of hearing Paudie Palmer’s excellent updates at close quarters as we stood close together on the bank for warmth.

The weekend just gone, with Storm Brian following Hurricane Ophelia (the latter is part of the American naming system, with the former the British and Irish one, hence the alphabetical discord) proved to be too much for some games though, with Saturday only seeing the Erin’s Own-Kilmacabea JAFC semi-final replay making it through.

Thankfully, things were okay by Sunday, with just a brisk breeze the worst the 16,226 patrons had to contend with at Páirc Uí Chaoimh for the two county senior finals.

For those of you who, like us, take an interest in miscellaneous statistics and facts, Sunday provided a good harvest.

Nemo Rangers’ win over St Finbarr’s in the football final replay meant that Larry Kavanagh joined the fairly select club of Nemo men to have captained and managed the club in county final victories – Billy Morgan, Ephie Fitzgerald and Steven O’Brien are the other members.

Given that it is the practice to only play the national anthem once on a matchday, before the last game, surely it was the first time that the anthem wasn’t played before a county senior decider? If anybody knows, they can get in touch to put us right.

Amazingly, Nemo’s tally of 4-12 was scored entirely from play and, oddly, of the two games, the football – 4-12 to 3-13 – was higher-scoring than the hurling (3-13 to 0-18).

When Imokilly last won, 1998, it was Blackrock they beat in the final, just as it was on Sunday. Perhaps, as fellow Echo writer Linda Mellerick pointed out on Twitter, there might be an omen to be gleaned in that Cork won the All-Ireland the following year too.

Of course, it will be Blackrock who advance to the Munster club championship rather than Imokilly, as divisional sides are prevented from representing their counties.

As Daithí Murphy – son of the Echo’s Eamonn – said, if UCC or CIT had won, they would be allowed to carry on as they are considered as clubs, even though their teams would not all feature players from Cork, as Imokilly would. Those players are also still allowed to play for their home clubs in other counties’ senior championships.

Presumably, the reason for this is that there is a fear that a divisional team would be too strong, but then if that was the case they would be winning the county championship every year. One can of course say that the provincial and All-Ireland club championships specify that only clubs can take part, but surely an exception could be made.

Incidentally, St Finbarr’s defeat to Nemo in the football final means that their wait for a first SFC win since 1985 goes on. The Togher club did reach the 1986 final, losing to Imokilly, but went on to win the Munster and All-Ireland titles despite not being county champions.

Blackrock – who were also beaten in the first hurling final in the old Páirc Uí Chaoimh – now face the task of playing Limerick champions Na Piarsaigh, which won’t be easy, but maybe they will benefit from the opportunity to get back on the horse after the disappointment of Sunday.

Cork has been waiting quite a while for Munster club winners – how ironic would it be if that run was ended by a team who weren’t county champions?

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