THERE was a time earlier in the year when we thought that there would be no GAA season at all.
But, thankfully, that did not happen and here in Cork the season was a resounding success in the competitions that were concluded.
However, unfortunately, in the aftermath of the Cork County SHC final things ground to a halt again leaving a number of high-profile finals still to be played.
There was a hope that they could be concluded in the calendar year but that has not been the case and they will spill over into next season.
The plan at this point in time is to play them at the start of March so over the winter months quite a few clubs will have to stay alert, their players will have to retain their fitness levels and so on.
One such club is the Éire Óg in Mid Cork who had qualified for two county finals before the gates were padlocked again and the club scene was halted altogether.
The thriving Muskerry club are in the final of the IHC and in the final of the Senior A football championship.
In the hurling final they will come up against local Mid Cork rivals Aghabullogue and it goes without saying that it’s a game when the time comes that will generate huge interest.
Mallow will be their opponents in the football final and whilst it was hugely disappointing for the club to have the season halted, there is much to look forward to when Springtime comes.
Long-serving and hugely dedicated club official Pat Malone told the Echo that it has been a great season in the club and he’s hoping the best is yet to come in 2021.
“Look, not blowing our own trumpet, but it’s great to have reached two county finals in the one season.
“Of course, we’d love to have them played in the calendar year but that was outside of our control and we have to accept that.
“The players are training away under the guidelines laid down by the GAA and they are doing what they can.
“Our two team managers, Paudie Kissane in football and Niall O’Halloran in hurling ae keeping things ticking over and that’s all you can do until we get the green light to start up again."
The achievement of reaching two finals is all the more meritorious because of the fact that there are so many dual players involved.
“Yes, we have 12 dual players between both teams and they were kept very busy during the year when we were competing on both fronts.
“You were going on a weekly basis in both codes but, thankfully, we got there and great credit is due to all the players and the management teams for being able to handle that. I suppose we were a bit unique in one of the hurling games as we had to go to a penalty shootout with Sars in the semi-final which we won.
“It’s not the right way but we didn’t make the rules and we took the opportunity when it was presented."
Malone told the Echo that aside from the playing side of things, the club is in a very strong place going forward.
“Yes, it is. You have seen the facilities that we now have and we are very proud of that. We are adding to things all the time and we are constructing a new field for our underage people.
“That’s needed too because we have huge numbers coming into us from under-6 upwards.
We had great momentum going before the thing was halted but so too had Aghabullogue and Mallow, I am sure. We were on a bit of a roll so, hopefully, we can take up from where we left off."
He agreed that it had been a tough year for everybody.
“It has been, especially financially. It takes a lot of finance to keep a club going these days and that was very much curtailed this year.
“But we were fortunate insofar as we got our golf classic played and that was a huge help, it keeps things ticking over."
Now over 50 years involved with the thriving Mid Cork club, Malone is hopeful going forward.
“It keeps us all going and I suppose it’s a labour of love really, it gets you out of the house.
“We have these to finals in the new year to look forward to and it would be great to get up to Premier Senior Football and to Premier Intermediate Hurling.
“We’ll see how it goes."