IN so far as it can, we endeavour to ensure, that this column wears its positive clothes as often as possible.
So far this summer, it has been one easy task as Rebel teams right across the spectrum have been performing really well.
So then, what is the issue?
Some day last week a city pigeon heading west informed us, that the Seandún Board with the support of its club delegates had taken a decision for the second year in a row to go with a straight knockout in relation to its Junior A football and hurling championship.
Notwithstanding the fact, that they have put in place a shield competition for teams defeated in the first round, this decision in my humble opinion is wrong. However, apportioning blame here may be more complicated than meets the eye.
It does appear that there is a practice within some divisions of not beginning their junior championships until after the commencement of the County Board competitions.
This situation is somewhat understandable in so far as it ensures that junior teams in clubs that also field in County Board competitions are properly constituted.
If we take Nemo Rangers, for example, it means that both their senior team and intermediate championship team must play prior to the juniors taking to the pastures.
That said, there has to be a better way, and it is a way that some divisions have taken on board.
I am aware of one division that commenced its junior championship this past weekend and it included a club’s second team.
Surely that in such a scenario, the County Board executive could get involved and work out a junior eligibility document, without having to rely on County Board competitions commencing.
I look forward to progress on this issue because it is simply not good enough that club players who play in County Board competitions can get a minimum of three championship matches whereas junior players in Seandún are only guaranteed one.
Last week, we mentioned, that we were operating a cut and paste policy in relation to the county senior hurling team.
For their games against Clare and Dublin, we went with “they must and should.” Not this week so instead we will chance “they can and should.”
You don’t need a blow in from the ash-free territory of Templenoe to tell you that Kilkenny are different and are different again when they play Cork. There is history with and between the two counties and it didn’t all begin with the Stepford Wives label.
Even their former players who have joined the punditry brotherhood are different.
They are more Farmers Journal than Ulysses. Listening to the likes of Henry Shefflin, JJ Delaney and Jackie Tyrell, they keep it simple, none of this “not all of you were born with the cerebral capability to understand the intricacies of this heavenly game.”
There are a number of reasons, that can be put forward to support the case that Cork are capable of winning three championship matches in a row.
Speed and the Croke Park open spaces immediately come to mind.
There are guys in this Cork set-up who would be comfortable lining up at the starting tape with the Italian Lamont Marcell Jacobs the fastest man in the world.
Take Cork’s opening goal against Dublin, it began with Robbie O’Flynn winning possession, but a vital component of it was the speed, the Glounthaune burrito kid employed to escape the assembled gathered before passing possession to Tim O’Mahony.
When the wing-back took off, the Dubs must have wondered, if he had an outboard fitted, it was an inspiring strike.
No mention of speed would be complete with reference to the Flying Sars that is Jack O’Connor.
Then for a moment, I am reminded of the Cats' corner-back producing machine. The first one I remember was a guy called Fran Larkin.
If a player endorsing products for commercial gain, was in place in his day it would more likely that he would be photographed alongside a hatchet than in a multi-coloured shirt.
Then you had those O’Connor brothers Eddie and Willie from Glenmore, who brought their own level of trepidation to members of opposing corner-forwards. Move on to JJ Delaney and the uncharacteristically fashion-conscious Jackie Tyrell.
After all that, I think we can take it, that whatever Kilkenny players are handed the number two and four geansaís on Sunday, they will not want to leave down the generations of past Cats who donned those numbers.
It could be Jack O’Connor’s greatest test so far.
After losing the semi-finals of 2017 and 2018, and the 2019 quarter-final, in each case after being ahead going into the second half, a narrative developed around Cork, that they were incapable of holding on to leads.
The 2019 defeat to Sunday’s opposition was seized by many to hammer this point home.
Make no mistake, this will be a big test for both counties and from a Kilkenny perspective, Brian Cody will be aware that those Winter Whisperers will be back out in force if they aren’t planning a day out on Sunday, August 22.
I believe that the few changes that Cork have introduced this year should get them over the line and then the next climb can begin.
I suppose, there is no point in trying to make a case for Waterford causing a major shock on Saturday!
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