A COUNTY final in the middle of June, over eight months after the semi-final was played the year before, sums up our weird times.
Yet, all that will be forgotten about, when Éire Óg take on Mallow in the 2020 Bon Secours county senior A football championship decider final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday at 7pm.
Harry O’Neill, the Éire Óg manager, reflected the somewhat bizarre scenario surrounding the game.
“We were only allowed play from the seventh and the final is on the 19th so there’s only a 12-day window there,” he told.
“It’s very strange. The lads worked away during Covid and came back in fairly good shape, but the lack of matches is a problem.
“You can do all the training you want, but there’s nothing like playing games, when you’re taking hits and all that.”
Éire Óg played twice in the Cork Credit Unions League and won both.
“We got two fantastic games. We were involved in a very physical game up in Kiskeam on the Bank Holiday Monday and managed to get through by four points.
“That’s because we’re way ahead of them in training as we’re closer to our final than they are, though it was still a great, open game of football. For us I suppose you’d call it a confidence builder.”
O’Neill confirmed that Ciaran Sheehan won’t be part of the team or panel because of injury, but Éire Óg expect to have everyone else available, including Sheehan’s Cork colleague, Colm O’Callaghan.
The timing of the final is still perfect because Éire Óg are also involved in a hurling final with as many as a dozen starters in both.
“For a dual club, it’s ideal. If the two had been left until August, one of us would be playing the Bank Holiday weekend and the other a week after.
“If that was the case it would have been a total disaster with our preparations.
“Now we have six weeks’ preparation going into Saturday’s game and then the hurlers will also have six weeks.
“We’re both getting a run at it like never before and it’s brilliant.”
The clubs met in the group phase with Mallow winning by double scores, 0-14 to 0-7.
“I don’t think it will have any bearing because it was so long ago.
“I think the way the championship is structured now all the teams are of an even standard and every day you go out you believe you have a chance of winning.
“There’s very little between the teams and, if anything, losing that day is probably a bit of motivation for ourselves.
“It was probably a wake-up call, too, because we were cruising along after winning the premier intermediate the year before and went with the same team.
“We were well beaten on the day and it was a kick in the backside for us. We made a lot of changes from that game and we’re playing better as a result.
“It was a classic case of learning more in defeat in victory.
“Saturday is all about performing on the day, showing up with the right attitude and getting a few breaks.”