THE ‘Páirc ui Rinn or nowhere’ caption never quite had the same ring as ‘Newbridge or nowhere’ - ‘Páirc ui Rinn or ruin’ is much more fitting – but the Cork footballers will hope to emerge from this saga with a similar positive result to what Kildare managed back in 2018 when they fought for their right to party on home soil.
Of course, this issue is slightly different to Kildare’s four years ago.
One could argue that the genesis of this dispute is Cork’s own problem given that they had booked Ed Sheeran to perform in Páirc Ui Chaoimh at this time of year, but Cork can of course argue that Páirc Ui Rinn is still a perfectly suitable venue for the meeting, so the home and away arrangement with Kerry should not be impacted.
Whatever about the details, the Cork panel have clearly set out their stall at this stage, and there is no way that they will be travelling to Killarney on May 7.
The Rubicon has long been passed from which they can return on this issue.
There will be no match at Fitzgerald’s Stadium.
The next question is as to whether the Munster Council can tolerate being seen to back down.
The answer is probably negative to this one too. To be seen to back down on an issue like this would be considered a defeat, and so on this basis alone we are unlikely to see a game in Páirc Ui Rinn either, with the one hope being that the Council would prefer the gate receipts from the smaller venue than none at all, if it came down to it.
Realistically that leaves us with two options. Either the game takes place at a neutral venue, or Cork forfeit the game.
It probably would require some degree of mediation to get to the former option.
Everyone concerned might be happy for the neutral venue solution as it would mean that no one will be perceived to have lost the ‘argument’, but the longer this goes without resolution then the closer we get to the latter option, where Cork end up sitting out the 2022 championship entirely.
If Cork were to get their way and they game took place at Páirc Ui Rinn then, quite simply, they would need to produce.
It could well become a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’ for the footballers of Cork. It would not actually be necessary for Cork to win the game, but they certainly could not be embarrassed on home soil, in front of their own fans, in front of the watching national media, after making such a stance.
When Kildare were in a similar situation in 2018 the famous to ‘Newbridge or nowhere’ saga followed, with Kildare refusing to play Mayo in Croke Park, insisting they retained their home advantage in St. Conleth’s Park in Newbridge.
This resulted in a real circling of the wagons scenario for Kildare football with them capitalising by eventually sealing a famous win by 0-21 to 0-19. They were forced into a situation where they had to front up, and they did, in spades.
A lot of fans may hope for the game to be played at Cork’s secondary venue in order to get Kerry into a dogfight on a small, tight pitch, but that is actually one of the those sporting misconceptions.
Páirc Ui Rinn may appear to be a small pitch when looking at it on TV but in reality it’s a big pitch, and is in fact bigger than Killarney’s Fitzgerald Stadium.
Páirc Ui Rinn is listed as 12,672 square metres, which is the exact same size as Páirc Ui Chaoimh, while Fitzgerald Stadium is 11,808 square metres.
Interestingly, they are the same length, with the difference being the width, with the Cork pitch being 88m wide and Killarney 82m.
So, if Cork want that tighter venue to try and slow down what is perceived to be the quicker and fitter Division 1 winners then they should go to Killarney.
It would be no great surprise if the standoff ended in unsatisfactory fashion with no resolution at all, with Cork ending up forfeiting the tie, in a scenario that would certainly have earned the ‘Páirc ui Rinn or ruin’ moniker.
In the short-term this would be disastrous, as Cork would effectively be stepping out of the 2022 championship without kicking a ball, or a Kerryman, in anger. In the long-term it might end up being a catalyst though, the moment that Cork football finally started to get its mojo back.