Paudie Palmer: Cork hurlers falling so fast, footballers might be a better bet against Kerry

A 'two-point hammering' in Semple Stadium leaves the hurlers' season hanging by a thread
Paudie Palmer: Cork hurlers falling so fast, footballers might be a better bet against Kerry

Cork’s Alan Connolly dejected after the loss to Clare. He was the most influential forward on display at Semple Stadium. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

LEARNINGS dear readers, learnings. 

It was another one of those weekends, where the said learnings might provide illumination as to where we are, and where the championship 2022 may take us. 

From the beginning on April 19 to the terminus on July 24, it is a 16-week voyage. 

We are three weeks in. You could suggest that there may be an element of front-loading, which will lead to the early exit of some teams earlier than is necessary. 

No, we are not in the slightest suggesting a season extension, just to examine the possibility of spacing out the early schedule a tad more.  If that is not a possibility, then so be it, because the club championship cannot be interfered with.

Back to the book of learnings, and better get the admission of possibly not having a clue when it comes to Cork’s placing at the hurling top table out of the way. Prior to the Easter Sunday blitz, I would have suggested that Cork were in the top three in Munster and deserved to be in any conversation around the winter custody of Liam McCarthy.

Now...

Against Clare, after 27 first-half minutes it was 0-15 to 0-4. With all due respect to the small hurling population of North Kerry (there is a few around Kenmare/ Kilgarvan as well) if the Banner were playing the Kingdom, that type of scoreline would be understandable. 

Alan Connolly was sent to bat, Cork improved. With 20 remaining, the lead was down to four. The Blackrock forward had utilised his St Michael’s football skills to kick home a goal. 

AGAINST THE ODDS

One of Clare’s many influential players Ian Galvin was shown a straight red. Those manning the lines of the nation’s gambling office loosened the ties, this is pressure work and altered the odds. 

A Cork victory was now a real possibility.

A few years back, I remember sitting alongside a journalist at some venue or another and every time a flag was raised he picked up his phone and informed somebody of the said alteration. Curiosity took over and he informed me, that the line was open all the time and the information was being used to alter odds. 

Oh, he was getting a few bob for his efforts. Sports journalists can also be enterprising individuals!

A black card shown to Clare’s Aidan McCarthy in last year's championship against Tipperary resulted in a 10-point swing in the allocated 10 minutes. Not here, Cork for whatever reason, couldn’t capitalise and for the remainder of the contest, bar the last few minutes of discretionary time, Clare's lead oscillated between five and seven points. 

At the last whistle, we were introduced to another term: a two-point hammering.

Cork’s fall from whatever grace they occupied after making the All-Ireland final and this year’s league decider has now becoming a championship 2022 narrative. 

The Sunday Game devoted a section to it which must have annoyed some Clare viewers. 

Every lack in the book has been applied: lack of direction, lack of confidence, a lack of boldness and whatever lack you are having yourself. 

Many of these lacks are brought to our attention as euphuisms for having a dig at management.

Not wishing to dampen the enthusiasm of those wearing the rebel mourning clothes, Cork can still qualify but to achieve that they must be bold and confident when they visit Walsh Park on Sunday week.

Earlier, I mentioned being introduced to the phenomenon of the two-point hammering, another term that may provide a reference point for our understanding of the evolution of hurling has also entered the lexicon. 

If one was cynical, they might use the term the Gaelic footballisation of the ancient game but instead, we must go with 'swarming of the middle third' or the swarming of where the sliotar takes up residency. In Cork’s games against Limerick and Clare, seemingly, they were subject to this without returning the favour. 

Conor Lehane of Cork is tackled by John Conlon of Clare. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Conor Lehane of Cork is tackled by John Conlon of Clare. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Education is a life-long journey!

Whatever about our expectations for the county hurlers, we can safely say that the expectation bar for the big ball boys is quite low, you could even suggest that for this Saturday evening we can put away the bar. 

BIG BALL

A little question for you.

Would you think that the footballers have a better chance of beating Kerry than the hurlers have of doing the business in Walsh Park? If you are in doubt check the odds of each eventuality.

Whatever your views on where the game should be played, I would suggest getting one fact quite clear, Kerry will be every bit the threat in Páirc Uí Rinn as they would be in Killarney. 

In fact, I would go so far as to say, that Christy’s field will confer more of an advantage to Jack O’Conner’s All-Ireland chasing outfit. 

In the greater scheme of things the apparent return to form by the Dubs albeit against Division 4 side Wexford last weekend could be more of a concern to the steely Dromid man than this Saturday’s trip to Leeside.

One of the concerns for the suits cantered around the capacity of the stadium. Honestly, aside from the attendance at the Cork and Limerick hurling game, there appears to a below-expected number in attendance at the majority of matches thus far throughout the country. 

Páirc Uí Rinn will do well to be full.

Probably due to the amount of war of independence activity that featured in this county over hundred years ago, the term Rebel county has always be associated with Cork. 

Last week, the former Kerry outstanding midfielder Darragh Ó Sé in a damming article on the present Cork team really inserted the knife when he questioned Cork insistence on the game being played in Páirc Uí Rinn as a cause. 

If it is, he more or less added, that it will be a cause without rebels. That implication has to hurt!

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