NARRATIVE fallacy is a very interesting phenomenon to watch in action.
Basically, it hinges upon our need to apply an explanation to what we are seeing and hearing and, far too often, clinging to that explanation regardless of which other facts we may encounter. In fact, we end up manipulating these facts to make them fit to our beliefs.
At Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday evening, the narrative was that Cork football was at its lowest ebb of all-time, and Tipperary were the undertakers for the funeral which was about to take place.
That was evident throughout Bernard Flynn’s radio analysis alongside Pauric Lodge and it was the same with his former Meath team-mate Colm O’Rourke on RTÉ 2 television.
Cleverly, O’Rourke gave himself a foothold for his excoriation by tipping Cork to win by five or six points, thereby allowing for easy criticism when they weren’t winning.
Don’t get us wrong – to score one point in a half of a football game, shooting nine wides, was bad, very bad. But Cork still won. If they had scored 1-9 in the first half and just a point in the second as they lost, it’s doubtful people would have focused on the first half.
Also, let’s not insult the opposition. Tipp are not a shower of patsies, they have been moulded into a good side, first by Peter Creedon with that good work continued by Liam Kearns.
Last year, after they beat Cork, they held their own against Kerry for 50 minutes and then beat Derry and Galway to reach the All-Ireland semi-finals, where Mayo weren’t allowed to have things all their own way either.
When Conor Sweeney flicked the ball to the net from Colm O’Shaughnessy’s delivery to put Tipp 1-9 to 0-10 ahead in the 69th minute, the knives were being sharpened. Things could hardly have worked out better for the doom-mongers – Cork had played themselves back into the lead only to shoot themselves in the foot.
Except, they didn’t. When the need was greatest, they calmly moved the ball up the field, through Michael Hurley, James Loughrey and Mark Collins, whose pass allowed Luke Connolly to palm past Ciarán Kenrick.
Any credit from external quarters was grudging, in contrast to how Kerry were congratulated for grinding past Clare on Sunday. Such is the way, Kerry have a greater former player presence in the media, as Cork captain Paul Kerrigan pointed out on RedFM’s Big Red Bench on Sunday evening.
For Cork though, one would hope that this win can be the confidence kick-starter which was so desperately needed. We’ve often seen teams and individuals, across all sports, playing below the levels expected, no matter what they try or how much they want to get out of the rut.
From our vantage point in the press overflow area on Saturday evening, we saw two members of the Cork management – who watched the game from the stand – being accosted at the start of the second half, asked if they had given the team any pride in the jersey, as if such a thing had never occurred to them. They didn’t engage, and they were better not to, for any response would have been losing the argument.
We can safely say the management were more aware than anyone else of how badly things had been gone. When Connolly’s goal went in, a third management member in the stand bounded down six steps in celebration. This meant a lot to them, and raised a weight off their shoulders.
They will be underdogs against Kerry, and may well lose. But it’s probably the case that everyone Kerry play, except Dublin, will lose. If that does happen, Cork will have a game to reach the quarter-finals. Win that, and 2017 is an improvement on 2015 and 2016. There won’t be any parades, but it would be a step forward, just as 2005 was after the 2004 qualifier loss to Fermanagh.
Of course, maybe we’ll have a wet day for the Munster final in July and a repeat of 1983. Who wants to play the Tadhg Murphy role?