NOWADAYS it is all about ‘learnings’, a word we never heard of as we journeyed through Direendaragh NS in South Kerry.
Back then, bringing home the turf for the classroom fire was a higher priority than learning such fancy words.
Before beginning an essay on what the last weekend of GAA added to our fountain of knowledge, let us first acknowledge the positive effects of a dose of reality.
Prior to any size five being kicked in this year’s Allianz football odyssey, many stated that success for the Cork footballers was promotion to Division 1. Now, all are on the same hymn sheet, avoiding the Division 3 calling card is the new reality.
Having missed the trip to Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday night, due to an earlier engagement in Croke Park with the Ballygiblin hurlers, any observations are second, if not third hand.
Travelling south from the capital, we were listening to the radio commentary and also spoke to a few whose health wasn’t put in jeopardy by remaining on to support the footballers after watching the Cork hurlers record an easy victory over the Banner’s main army.
My God, the cold was a handy excuse for Leesiders who believe Cork football teams are hewn from inferior granite.
Colm Collins’ charges were probably the better team, but the home side showed improvement from the visit to Hyde Park.
It appeared, that the defence benefited from deploying Sean Powter in the half-back line rather than handing him a number two or number four geansaí.
One of the few players who has perfected the art of corner-back play coupled with darting runs out defence is Kerry’s Tom O’Sullivan. It is a demanding job description!
Another positive that emerged from the clash was the scoring performance of Blake Murphy.
I must admit that when the St Vincent’s player departed the action in Killarney during the McGrath Cup final, having not burned a few green and gold defenders, and when he subsequently didn’t see action against the Rossies, I feared that his career may be over before it began.
Wrong. He landed three first-half beauties and though replaced, another audition awaits.
His replacement, Fionn Herlihy from Dunmanway, used his strength and skill to raise two white flags which should also ensure further outings.
Tadhg Corkery was one of the players who departed Hyde Park a week earlier without experiencing flashbacks at the thought of attending the video analysis session. He added value to his standing with another committed performance. Hopefully, he will impress again in Derry.
Not sure where the good Lady Luck comes into it, but she made an appearance for the Cork goal late on; pity she didn’t hang around for the remainder.
The draw gained means that Cork won’t make the 520km trip to the Owenbeg complex in Derry on Sunday week pointless.
When you consider that six days later, the very impressive Galway, with former Cork coach Cian O’Neill on board, arrive in town, that point could be viewed as priceless.
In an era where soundbites and motivational quotations are part of our well-being therapy, we are often reminded ‘to be the best we can be’, I could say easier said than done but I won’t annoy you.
One can be almost sure, that on occasions, Keith Ricken reminds his young team of the same.
However, this column, which is devoid of the holistic approach, would go down the blunt route and just go with, Cork just need to be the best of the worst.
Of course, it is early days, after all, the calving season is still in full swing, but nonetheless, patterns are emerging.
Cork, Down, Meath, and Offaly have yet to win, but Cork do have that valuable point. At 4pm on Sunday, March 20, if Cork are third from bottom or better, our objective for them will have been achieved.
Reverting to Saturday night, those whose digital appendages and other vulnerable body parts were able to withstand the inclement conditions did get to witness a close contest. Not alone that, they added to the event.
The ‘superior’ opening act was over by half-time as Cork shot over points at will to remind the hurlers from Clare that they are in the lower echelons of chasing pack.
As mentioned previously all the four football divisions are competitive principally, because there is an equality of standards between the teams and also, with the exception of Division 4, serious relegations issues can arise.
Contrast that with hurling. Yes, there is the potential for close contests but the much-needed relegation bite is absent.
For one mark, name the relegation contenders in both Division 1 Group A and Group B sections.
To help you, the Group A inhabitants are Cork, Clare, Limerick, Tipperary, Wexford, and Offaly while Antrim, Dublin, Kilkenny, Laois, Galway, and Waterford are Group B tenants.
Just to make sure that none of the big guns go down, only one of the above 12 will be relegated.
Cork travel to Birr on Sunday next and what are the odds on a Rebel victory of 15-points plus
Maybe someday, a Cork football team will experience such a winning margin. Then, those with vulnerable body parts may remain on to see them in action.
We live in hope.
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