THE ‘downside’, such as it is, of winning a county senior championship is that, unless you progress in the subsequent provincial competition, the year ends with a defeat.
Such was the case for Midleton, who lost out to Kilmallock by 0-19 to 1-9 in Sunday’s AIB Munster Club SHC semi-final at the TUS Gaelic Grounds in Limerick.
So impressive in their county semi-final win over Blackrock and final victory against Glen Rovers, the Magpies never found their rhythm against the Limerick champions, who led by 0-12 to 0-3 at half-time and had 11-point leads at three stages in the second half.
Obviously, one poor result won’t outweigh the many positives from the year as a whole as the East Cork club ended an eight-year wait for the Seán Óg Murphy Cup. However, while manager Ger Fitzgerald hopes that the Kilmallock game can be learned from, he knows that the opportunity for another Munster tilt won’t be easily achieved.
“I think we’ve a young group,” he said, “but, in saying that, every year is different.
“The thing now for us is that we face back into a county championship which is an extremely, extremely difficult competition to win – there are no guarantees you’d get out of your group next year.
“The disappointing thing about today is that we gave ourselves an opportunity and we didn’t take that. But we couldn’t fault the lads for effort or dedication or commitment throughout the year. They were outstanding and we’re very proud of them.
“We’ll go out of there with our heads up and our chests out. Unfortunately, we didn’t deliver on the day and you have to at this level.”
Midleton’s loss means that the wait goes on for a first Cork win in the competition since Newtownshandrum came out on top in 2009. Kilmallock manager Tony Considine, whose side had been playing their first game since winning the Limerick county final at the end of October, felt that perhaps Midleton’s heavier schedule in the interim took its toll.
“It’s very hard to put your finger on it,” he said.
“I know divisional teams have won in Cork for the last number of years and the team coming out into Munster were the second-best team.
“I feel they put a lot of effort into winning the Cork championship. They had some really really tough games and I think we were that bit fresher. Maybe if they got the seven weeks, they’d be fresher too.
“Look, it’s a big county, lots of games to be played. Limerick ran their championship very well this year – we had three group games and then into knock-out and I think the whole thing was done in six, seven weeks.
“You’re fresh all the time, you’re not doing that heavy training. We’re delighted with where we are. But we only are where we are. We’re in the Munster club final.”