Paudie Palmer: Criticism of Cork is unfair after winning in Ennis

Rebels won two of their three games in this year's league, what more do people expect..?
Paudie Palmer: Criticism of Cork is unfair after winning in Ennis

Luke Connolly of Cork kicks a point against Clare. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

WAS it always thus?

Win, lose or draw, it appears that it’s a case of not interfering with the narrative.

Cork footballers are only on the agenda along with the sombre items like politicians, taxes and death.

Just for the record, Cork did defeat Clare in Ennis. Prior to this, they had failed to win in three league matches and one championship outing in various Clare venues.

It's also worth noting, Cork won two of their three 2021 regulation league games. That percentage in a regular eight-team league section would yield four or more victories.

Before you call the good editor, demanding my instant dismissal, I am aware of that stuff about facts being stubborn and statistics being pliable.

For a start, this version of the football league is mainly to ensure counties have a few competitive games prior to championship. I doubt that many factored in the unfairness of it for the six teams who will be relegated.

The hurling boys wouldn’t let it happen. Before you make a second call, there is relegation but that is reserved for one of the following Antrim, Laois or Westmeath. These counties are happy enough to be invited to the odd party in the big house.

Before last weekend's final round of games in Division 2 South, each of the four teams had a shot at a relegation or promotion play-off. Is there any other league on the planet like that?

Just one of the many, anomalies, Cork who won 66.666...% (don’t tell me you have forgotten the recurring decimal) of their games, and will now play Westmeath, who lost all theirs.

This crucial fixture will be played in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday week at 2pm.

Eamon Fitzmaurice, writing in Irish Examiner, informed us that Cork haven’t pushed on from last year and the least that he would have expected is that they should have qualified for the promotion play-off. I hope that I have dealt with the latter and as regards pushing on, it depends on your sporting mindset.

When Manchester City players collected their medals in Porto on Saturday night, did they view them as runners-up medals or medals for losers?

Last year, Cork won all their league matches against Division 3 opposition, then they caught Kerry on an off day and they lost to Tipperary. So one could suggest, that the benchmark wasn’t that elevated.


Earlier, I encountered an individual who watched some of Sunday’s fare and it was enough for him to declare that Cork were awful.

I disagreed. Out of politeness, he adopted a toned-down version by suggesting that Cork were nowhere near the top teams. I moved onto the next agenda item but I would have liked to hear, who his top billing included!

For this scribbler, there is only one top team, with the second cohort containing two Ulster teams (take your pick) and Mayo, and, ok, I will include Galway.

Whether we like to admit it or not, Cork at this moment in time are a Division 2 team and in championship terms, based on the provincial system, they can defeat the trio of Clare, Limerick or Tipperary on any given day but just as easily can lose to them.

What may elevate Cork ahead of that particular grouping, is that none of them will defeat Kerry, but on occasions (rare), the Rebels will.

Can we examine some positives from the trip to Ennis?

The change in Cathail O’Mahony’s performance from the Laois game was so evident and so welcome. He landed some beauties from both play and dead-ball situations and the hope now is that he will add value in Cork’s remaining three games against Westmeath, Limerick and Kerry.

The next challenge though is to ensure that there is a plan put in place to ensure that he improves further prior to Cork’s opening game in 2022.

There is some divided opinion on where Ian Maguire stands when today’s inter-county midfielders are up for discussion. That debate may have a bit to go yet, but I thought he was outstanding.

His clean catches, driving runs and getting in on the scoring act were admirable in the extreme.

Cork’s Ian Maguire signals for a point in Ennis. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Cork’s Ian Maguire signals for a point in Ennis. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Last week I did mention that for Cork to win, the influence of David Tubridy would have to be greatly reduced.

The veteran ended up with the Man of the Match gong, not sure whether this was the fault of a certain defender or a systems failure, but regardless, it has to be viewed as a major disappointment.

Westmeath have at least three forwards, namely Ger Egan, Ronan O’Toole and John Heslin who will also cause problems, and if their influence, isn’t curbed, the Division 3 Sat Nav could be back in use at the beginning of 2022.

As we are on advice mode, why not continue?

Doesn’t it now appear that we are nearly back to the future in terms of the way Gaelic football is played with a welcome emphasis on attacking options?

There was evidence that Cork can play this game as well but just not enough of it. On a few occasions when a Cork midfielder or half-forward was fouled, he turned back and played the ball behind him.

Maybe just because it doesn’t look right, it isn’t wrong but for what it’s worth, I would suggest that except in the rare occasion, drive forward... coaching lesson over!

Contact: Twitter @paudiep

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