When the new county championship format was passed in the spring of 2019, ready for implementation for 2020, there was a sense that things would be difficult for dual clubs.
At the time, the idea was that one round each of hurling and football would be played in April, before the inter-county season, with things then picking up again August and clubs having to play twice in each code in quick succession before the knockout stages began.
Of course, nobody knew then the impact that Covid-19 would have on our lives, with the knock-on effect for the GAA being the expediting of the split season.
That meant that the six rounds of group-stage games would be played off in a seven-week window and that will be the case again in 2021, with the inter-county start-date having been delayed until high summer.
The dual mandate wasn’t an impediment last year for Newcestown, who reached the Premier SFC quarter-finals and SAHC semi-finals, while Ballincollig were quarter-finalists in the PSFC and PIHC. Bandon made the senior A knockout stages in both codes, as did Kanturk in SAHC and PIFC and Aghabullogue in both intermediate A grades.
Of course, the poster boys, the duals in the crown, were Éire Óg, who came out on top in senior A football and intermediate A hurling. It should be noted, too, that a dual club winning a double isn’t unknown in recent times: Valley Rovers (2009 PIFC, IHC), Grenagh (2013 IFC, JAHC), Bandon (2016 PIHC, IFC) and Kanturk (2017 PIHC, IFC) all managed to come out on top in two championships in the one year.
By our reckoning, there are 20 dual outfits across the county senior and intermediate championships, taking into account Blackrock/St Michael’s, Glen Rovers/St Nicholas, Sarsfields/Glanmire and Watergrasshill/Glenville.
While there was no crossover among the Glen and Nick’s players to see game-time in the opening rounds of their respective championships, everyone else had players serving two masters, with three clubs (Fermoy, Kanturk and Newcestown) having 12.
As we saw in Tuesday’s article, every club that won a delayed 2020 championship final this summer and then moved up a grade for 2021 ended up registering a win in their first outing.
Some of those were dual clubs, of course, but, by looking at the results of the hurling and football openers of the teams involved, some interesting trends develop.
Nine of the dual operations lost their first football game – and not a single one of them were victorious in their hurling bows. It must be pointed out that Newcestown and Ballincollig were both denied wins by late equalisers from Fr O’Neills and Kilworth respectively, but it is still quite the statistic that none of the clubs could bounce back with a win.
By contrast, there were nine football wins for dual clubs and only Mallow and Aghabullogue followed that with a hurling defeat.
There were six examples of win-win scenarios, for Douglas, Éire Óg, Glanmire/Sarsfields, Kanturk, St Finbarr’s and Valley Rovers. What makes it all the more impressive in the case of Kanturk, Éire Óg and Valleys is the high level of crossover – 12, 11 and ten players respectively. The three other clubs with double-digits in terms of dual players were Bandon (football draw, hurling loss), Fermoy (two defeats) and 14-dual Newcestown (football loss, hurling draw).
The correlation could be coincidence, of course; it is worth revisiting as the championships go on.
Newcestown (14): C O’Donovan, C Dinneen, M McSweeney, C Twomey, F Keane, S O’Donovan, L Meade, C Keane, S O’Sullivan, T Twomey, D Buckley, R O’Sullivan, J Meade, E Kelly
Kanturk (12): J McLoughlin, D Browne, L Cashman, L O’Neill, Aidan Walsh, J Browne, P Walsh, J Fitzpatrick, L O’Keefe, I Walsh, Alan Walsh, G Basicktas
Fermoy (12): E Clancy, P Murphy, P de Róiste, K Morrisson, M Brennan, T Clancy, S Ahern; R O’Hagan, A Creed, G Larder, P Murphy, J Molloy
Éire Óg (11): J Mullins, C McGoldrick, D O’Herlihy, John Cooper, D Dineen, D McCarthy, R O’Toole; Joe Cooper, C O’Callaghan, K Hallissey; D Goulding
Bandon: P Murphy, M McNamara, R Long, T Twohig, E McSweeney, D Crowley, C Calnan, M Calahane, A Murphy, A O’Mahony
Valley Rovers (10): C Desmond, D Lynch, T O’Brien, D Murphy, G Farrell, C O’Leary, R O’Sullivan, E Delaney, W Hurley; E O’Reilly