Paudie Palmer: GAA will suffer all year from the removal of elite status

If inter-county action had throw-in last month, club teams wouldn't be squeezed into the winter
Paudie Palmer: GAA will suffer all year from the removal of elite status

Colin O'Brien of Cork prepares to take a free during the U20 Munster hurling final, the last game before lockdown at Christmas. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

WELL, how many of you shared the dilemma facing Jack Chambers Minister of State for Sport last Saturday?

No, it wasn’t the Ireland v France women’s Six Nations contest that was causing him grief, his oval ball knowledge would have him appraised as to the expected outcome here. France winning easily and they did that.

It was the other elitist meeting between Scotland and Italy in the same competition. If that great rugby nation, Italy beat the Scots, then, according to the plan, Ireland would travel to Parma this Saturday to take on the Italians and a whole set of quarantining issues would arise.

You guessed it, in this elitist contest, the Italians won. There is always a solution, the Italians are now coming here.

When you are elite, you are elite!

The reason that Deputy Chambers is in our line of fire, centres around his removal of inter-county players from the elitist habitat which will have major knock-on effects for the GAA, camogie and ladies football club championships here in Cork.

Had he not taken this course of action, the National Leagues would be well underway by now which would have lead to an earlier finish that is now the case for the All-Ireland Championship.

For the moment, we will just remain with the GAA club scene here in Cork.

Because of the number of clubs, the dual nature of many and the fact that that there are at least seven of last year’s county championships to be completed, I would think that it would take 16 weeks to complete and this is supposed to happen at a time of the year where weather-related issues will be a problem.

With Munster Club championships due to begin in late November, championship action here in Rebel land would need to begin at the end of July. But is there a silver lining in Cork’s recent inter-county championship history that may provide some solace for our club players?

We will revert back to that.

Firstly, the leagues.

In Division 1 hurling you could argue that this is a series of high-level challenge games in that there is a relegation safeguard for the big 8 to 10 built-in.

Cork are in Division 1A with Limerick Tipperary, Waterford, Clare, and Galway while Division 1B is made up of Clare, Kilkenny, Wexford, Dublin, Laois, and Antrim. The relegation final will be contested by the bottom teams in Division 1A and the bottom team in Division 1B.

There may be some discussion as to who will be at the base of Division 1B when each county has completed its five-match programme with the two main contenders being Antrim and Laois, but you can be rest assured that in Cork’s group, Westmeath will assume that role.


So, the historical viewpoint will inform us that Cork will win some, lose some, but they will defeat Westmeath.

The football league is all so different, with Cork having three away games against Kildare, Laois, and Clare in Division 2 South; Division 2 North includes Mayo, Meath, Down, and Westmeath.

For Cork to be promoted they must finish in the top two and defeat one of the top two in Division 2 North.

Just as significant, to avoid relegation they must not finish in the bottom two and if they do, they must win a relegation game against one of the teams that will finish in the bottom two of Division 2 North.

This is the ultimate bacon slicer competition.

On to the championship, and in the hurling where there is the safety net in the form of a qualifier route. Cork will play Limerick in the semi-final of the Munster championship.

Those with a keen interest in the archives will inform us that if history was a deciding factor, Cork are in with a good shout.

However, this Limerick side, operating at the upper end of the physical stakes will have an added initiative for this year’s Munster campaign with the winning captain standing over the brand new Mick Mackey Cup.

If past performances are a guide to 2021, Cork should exit the All-Irelandat the quarter-finals on the August weekend. If that were to happen some would view it as a silver lining for the clubs.

The championship journey for the county footballers where there is no qualifier is, in all probability, a lot more predictable.

Limerick's Iain Corbett and Michael Quinlivan of Tipperary last season. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane
Limerick's Iain Corbett and Michael Quinlivan of Tipperary last season. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

In mid-July, they will play Limerick who, I assume, will defeat Waterford in the Munster semi-final to set up a meeting with Kerry, who we expect to defeat Clare and Tipperary, in Killarney on Sunday, July 25.

What angle, do we take here? Lightning doesn’t strike twice.

Maybe the fact, that the last Cork senior football captain to make a victory speech in Killarney was the genteel Niall Cahalane in 1995 when Colin Corkery kicked a classic from the sideline.

Honestly, if Cork’s 2021 journey doesn’t end here, you can be assured of one outcome, Peter Keane’s green and gold coaching career will have reached the end of road.

Apologies to all Clare, Limerick Tipperary, and Waterford big ball practitioners pilgrims who feel a tad excluded by this week’s offering.

So if the expected happens in Killarney, the Cork County Executive can begin completing six of seven uncompleted county championships.

The premier senior football final will have to wait until the Castlehaven inter-county hurlers return to base camp.

Finally, what a welcome privilege to be scribbling about the prospects of Cork teams!

Contact: Twitter: @paudiep

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