AFTER all that, with some trojan work put in to ensure that the Gaelic games championships could go ahead, it ended with Dublin’s men and women extending their winning runs in their respective football All-Irelands.
For a while on Sunday, we had high hopes that Cork could reclaim the Brendan Martin Cup, especially when Áine Terry O’Sullivan scored an early goal for Ephie Fitzgerald’s team and they limited Dublin to just a point for the first 20 minutes or so.
Ultimately, Dublin’s strong start to the second half gave them the upper hand which they would not lose. It was somewhat reminiscent of the Metropolitan men on Saturday against Mayo, as the third quarter was pivotal and the challengers were held off as the end neared. The ladies’ team did seem to enjoy it more, though.
We jest — the Dublin men’s reaction at the final whistle against Mayo showed what it meant to win six in a row, but for everybody else there was a real sense of anti-climax.
Things were closer on Sunday, but the game was slowly pulled away from Cork and Dublin were able to see things out in a relatively comfortable fashion.
It must be frustrating for a team like Cork to know that they are the best of the rest but short of Dublin right now, the same as it is for the Mayo men.
The average person would have less sympathy for the county that recently won 11 All-Irelands in 12 years compared to the one waiting since 1951, but being unable to match recent heights can be difficult to process.
Still, Cork are a young team and will surely be in the mix again when the 2021 championships commence.
After the GAA’s Central Council met last Friday, it looks as if that will be in the late spring or early summer, with a July finish.
It will certainly be strange, two inter-county seasons effectively being run back-to-back and it brings about a sense of urgency in terms of Cork County Board making a decision on the management of the senior football team.
Ronan McCarthy’s three-year term expired after the Munster final loss to Tipperary but, as yet, there has been no official communication as to whether he will continue or if somebody else will be in place when the national league — run on a regional basis—– begins in February.
Following the completion of the inter-county season, the club championships will start at the end of July, as they did this year. However, while the pressure to finish before county action won’t be there, there are set to be provincial championships next year, squeezing the programme somewhat.
The big question arising from all of the Central Council plans is what happens to the outstanding county finals? In Cork, three hurling deciders — premier senior, senior A, and premier intermediate — were played but lower intermediate, junior A, and junior B were not, and the six football finals must also be scheduled.
While representations will be made to the government to allow club action to be played under level 3 restrictions, if the response is not positive then you’re looking at July, but the provincial championships are already impinging on the club calendar. It would be unfair to ask teams to play a county final one week and then start the next year’s championship the following week, but it’s still a better solution than not playing them at all because of the perceived need to put a club forward to the Munster club championships.
Generally, if you’ve qualified for a county final, everybody else would be envious, but this is almost the opposite situation for the clubs that won their semi-finals back in the autumn but are now left in limbo. The whole thing seems like a very avoidable problem and hopefully it is one that is sorted before too long.