AN indication of the drama attached to Cork County Championship matches last weekend is best illustrated by the statistic that six of the eight contests were decided by a single score.
To add a little more, four of the six were county finals. For those of us who get our fix on these club pastures, it was as good as it gets.
We begin with Boherbue.
In December 2016, the Cork County Board decided that, in order to spruce up the county junior championships, both divisional finalists would contest the county campaign. The decision had its opponents, as some felt it would reduce the value of the divisional championships.
One such opponent was John Fintan Daly, manager of Knocknagree. A short few months later Boherbue recorded a famous victory in defeating JFD’s charges in the 2017 Duhallow final. As a consequence of the earlier county board decision, both teams advanced to the county series with Knocknagree emerging victorious.
Victory in the 2018 final saw Boherbue crowned divisional champions for the second occasion, defeating Dromtarriffe in the final. The two went forward in pursuit of the county and you guessed it, Dromtarriffe become champions.
In 2019 Boherbue won their third Duhallow title and bowed out at the semi-final of the county.
In 2020, as a consequence of Covid, the county board reversed its 2016 decision and only the divisional winners went forward. The Duhallow side recorded their fourth divisional title, and in the delayed county championship, which was played earlier this year, they reach the county final only to suffer an 11-point defeat to Uibh Laoire.
Would they ever climb their Everest?
Back to basics and they defeated Cullen to record a fifth title.
Was it now or never?
Last Saturday they arrived in Páirc Uí Chaoimh for a day of destiny; a meeting with surprise packets Ballinhassig and in a most entertaining final, they eventually planted their flag, winning 3-8 to 2-8. The green-flag men were Alan O’Connor, Adrian Murphy and Jerry O’Connor.
Heartbreak Boherbue was at an end. Now, with the shackles off they head to bonus land in Ennis on this Saturday to play Ballyvaughan in the quarter-final of the Munster Club Championship.
Then on Saturday night, a one-point victory saw Courcey Rovers step up to the Senior A class.
For Castlelyons, it was heartbreaking to lose their second in a row by a single white flag.
Early in the second half, the Ballinadee-Ballinspittle outfit trailed by eight points but still kept believing.
The goal was vital and involved skill and strength from their best-known player Sean Twomey. On winning possession, he became an irresistible force of nature in moving through a heavily manned Castlelyons security cordon before laying across for sub Olan Crowley to finish to the net.
From there to the end, the points flowed mostly from the stick of Richard Sweetnam. However, it was the points from Jerry O’Neill during the barren period that possibly carried more value. He finished with 0-5.
When the last whistle was sounded, there was no need to call an emergency meeting of the “homecoming committee”. The plans were already in place from 2020 when their camogie team brought the Senior A title into the parish for the first time.
Next up... a meeting with Mungret St Paul’s from Limerick in the Minster semi-final on the weekend after next.
All the plaudits will go to Mallow for their massive recovery from a comprehensive defeat to Éire Óg in June in the 2020 edition of SAFC championship.
Goals by the big men, Sean McDonnell and sub Sean Hayes, consigned St Michael’s to their sixth county final defeat in 10 years.
Considering that, in five of those six defeats, the margin was one score and in the other, it was four points, one wonders why a playwright who specialises in dark drama hasn’t applied pen to paper about these south city brethren.
Mayo aren’t even at the races in comparison.
However, we can be assured, that the good people who steer this ship will continue to promote football in their patch and, in some instances, in challenging circumstances.
While some may wish to peddle the losing narrative about St Michael’s, one could also make the point that they are the fourth graded football club in the city. Maybe it is time for others within the city boundaries to raise their game.
Clonakilty, came, saw, and almost conquered, but just as importantly, both they and St Finbarr’s entertained us to the end and added another wee layer of positivity to Cork football.
It was as close as it could be, but nobody can deny that the Barrs in landing their 10th title aren’t deserving of their top-of-the-pile status.
They will now embark on the provincial journey and a Munster semi-final meeting with Éire Óg Ennis or Loughmore/Castleiney the weekend prior to the arrival of the bearded one.
They will carry our best wishes.
Joe Blake a proud Adrigole man, steps down this weekend from his role as PRO of Cork GAA, having served his three-year term.
In addition to tending to the many chores that come with this vital and onerous position, he set in motion a process whereby Cork GAA will produce its own match-day programmes for games held in Páirc Uí Rinn and Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
This development can become another revenue-generating outlet for Cork GAA.
On a personal level, I would like to thank him for his advice, courtesy, help, and sense of humour during his term in office.