Quality of county championship coverage on local radio shouldn't be taken for granted

Cork well-served by weekend schedules
Quality of county championship coverage on local radio shouldn't be taken for granted

Cillian Roche, in the white Sarsfields change jersey, and Carrigtwohill's Liam Gosnell in action in Sunday's Co-op SuperStores Cork Premier SHC clash at Caherlag. Photo: Jim Coughlan

With the NFL back, the Sunday-night Twitter feed is once again agog with the ‘Red Zone’, where a viewer is kept bang up to date with everything that is going on in every game.

It may be some time before we ever have anything like that in the GAA, at county or club level, though it must be said that the streaming of games has been a welcome development. However, the weekend radio listener has the next best thing.

On the way to or from a game on a Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon, the dial in the car seems to automatically set itself to C103. So ubiquitous have Cork Sports Saturday/Sunday become, we almost take the service for granted but it’s important to note the vital contribution made by presenter Rory Bourke, producer Michael Scanlon, commentators John Cashman, Paudie Palmer and Patrick Mulcahy and the long list of reporters out at games. And, if your radio was somehow to fail to get 103, Finbarr McCarthy’s comprehensive roundups on 96FM would ensure you didn’t miss anything. Likewise, RedFM's Big Red Bench provides excellent content. With so many games on simultaneously at the moment, GAA enthusiasts are kept right up date.

It mightn’t have mattered to those listening on the radio but, while the general rule regarding colour-clashes in county championship games is that both sides should change colours. However, last weekend provided three exceptions – two acceptable, one not – in the senior hurling championships.

On Saturday night, St Finbarr’s clashed with Erin’s Own in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. The Barrs, of course, play in solid blue jerseys with gold trim while their Glounthaune opponents are generally clad in blue tops with a red hoop.

All logic would say that the two first-choice looks wouldn’t work in opposition to one another but, as recently as the 2007 county semi-final, the clubs met without a change being mandated. However, by the time of their 2011 clash, the Barrs were in their gold alternative jerseys (and blue shorts, normally only used for football) while Erin’s Own lined out in red with blue trim.

For the clash three days ago, Erin’s Own were once again in those jerseys but the Barrs played in their usual blue – perhaps the county board felt they should be rewarded for recently winning The Echo’s Cork GAA Jersey Wars competition?

Incidentally, the whereabouts of the red Erin’s Own number 10 shirt is unknown, so Kieran Murphy wore the number 18 – though a typo on the match programme meant that both he and Maurice O’Carroll were listed as 9.

Being the only ones to change didn’t prove to be an impediment for Erin’s Own, who battled back from ten points down to earn a draw; on Sunday, the club hosted another game like that, between their neighbours on either side, Sarsfields and Carrigtwohill.

Blue is a popular colour in that pocket of East Cork, with Sars lining out in blue jerseys with a white hoop while Carrigtwohill have a Tipperary-like blue with a gold band. In recent times, Carrig have utilised back-up jerseys in the reverse Clare style but on Sunday they were in their usual colours with Sars changing. While the Riverstown club have had black as a back-up colour since their breakthrough 2008 county title win, but a change of jersey manufacturer from O’Neills to McKeever has brought about a new alternative, white with a blue hoop.

Once again, the side changing avoided defeat though Sars are looking like the form team in the championship right now and so will take beating whatever colours they are wearing.

Unfortunately, the SAHC game in Youghal between Fr O’Neills and Killeagh could have done with one or both sides changing as there was a surfeit of green on show. The red horizontal stripe around the O’Neills midriff was the only real difference – and it was on the front only, meaning that rucks for possession looked like team-mates doing pre-match drills.

Perhaps it was general fatigue, but the latter stages of the game saw a few passes go astray in a manner that suggested confusion on the part of the players making them. In a local derby, it’s understandable to a degree that neither side wanted to cede their primary colours of their own volition, but the easiest thing would have been for the decision to be taken out of their hands.

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