Paudie Palmer: Was it love or hate that turned Corkonians into La Rochelle fans?

Ronan O'Gara had the backing of the Rebels last weekend but many supporters were as happy to see Leinster beaten as the French side victorious
Paudie Palmer: Was it love or hate that turned Corkonians into La Rochelle fans?

La Rochelle head Coach Ronan O'Gara celebrates after the win over Leinster. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland

LAST Saturday’s sporting extravaganza got me thinking.

It led to some questioning about the mindset of a percentage of those who would define themselves as 'sports fans'.

Admittedly, it would take a body of intensive research work to come up with some answers as to the thought process of some of these individuals. This research could very well be an option for a Masters. That is if you could come up with about €12,000 for the privilege to be allowed to do so by one of our third-level educational establishments.

It's a question of love and hate. 

Was it not the case that when a high percentage of supporters sat down to watch an Irish team take on a French side in the European Champions Cup rugby final they became the 'Team ROG'.

I don't know where our newfound French friends hang out but that didn’t stop them becoming Lá Rochelleites for a good portion of last Saturday evening. Maybe French class was their favourite in secondary school? Je ne sais pa.

Or was it based on a dislike of our Leinster oval ball comrades? Answers on a small postcard please!

With Ronan O'Gara victorious, it was time for another French experience; this time a Parisian clash of Liverpool and Real Madrid.

Was this the ultimate love-hate clash? 

Or was it that many of the sporting populace, especially Man United fans, have an in-built grá for the Spanish and European kingpins?

Again your answers please!

To be fair Liverpool would have won, were it not for the heroics of cúl baire Thibaut Courtois.

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah looks dejected after collecting his runners-up medal.
Liverpool's Mohamed Salah looks dejected after collecting his runners-up medal.

You might ask, as to the GAA angle to all of this?

I could mention the randomer I encountered going into a county final in Páirc Uí Rinn a few years ago where one of the participating teams was Fermoy.

During the brief conversation, he informed me that he was from an area outside the north Cork town and that he would be cheering for them but he wanted the other crowd as he referred to them, to win.

Can you imagine for one moment, the psychological trauma that he encountered for the duration of that encounter?

Every time he clapped to acknowledge a Fermoy score, he was enduring serious internal torture. Love-hate! He went home heartbroken.

Even though there wasn’t a Cork male GAA team in action this weekend, I would argue that a cohort of Rebel supporters had to take solace from Dublin’s performance in the Leinster final.

In the aftermath of Dessie Farrell’s charges departing the Division 1 house to mix with the lesser folk in Division 2, it looked like we'd have a very competitive race for Sam Maguire.

With the Dubs seemingly out of the picture, the road of opportunity opened up for others...

After an impressive league final, followed by a functional dismissal of Cork, Kerry moved up to the starting place on the grid. Meanwhile, Dublin began to provide evidence of the error in our thinking with impressive victories over Wexford and Meath.

Kildare were expected to be different and a close final was on the cards. Now we know different and barring a surprise of major proportions in the All-Ireland quarter-finals, it will be Kerry and Dublin who will contest one semi-final on Sunday, July 10.

So for Rebel folks that consider a Kerry All-Ireland victory speech a bridge too far, Dublin’s annihilation of Kildare was a welcome event!

Is the power of sporting love greater than that of sporting hate?

Away from the main highway, the Tailteann Cup is introducing itself to the world. Last weekend, across the seven games played there was an average victory margin of 4.6 points.

Yes, it is not a scientific metric but nonetheless, for its first year, it is doing okay.

The shadow of the Tommy Murphy Cup left a negative mark because it wasn’t embraced and for some reason people didn't realise how badly needed a second-tier competition was.

VITAL

Meanwhile, Saturday’s All-Ireland Round 1 qualifier against Louth in Pairc Uí Chaoimh at 2pm is a game that Cork can’t really afford to lose.

A victory won’t be portrayed as being indicative of massive progress. Instead, it should mean that Cork will play either Donegal, Roscommon, Kildare, or Limerick the weekend after next.

The team from the smallest county in Ireland, which has 41 GAA clubs, goes against Cork, with its 259 clubs. They've nothing to lose.

They won seven league games in a row, including defeating Limerick in the Division 3 final 1-14 to 0-12.

Admittedly on May 1, they came a cropper 2-22 to 0-12 against Kildare, but since then Mickey Harte will have utilised the time to convince them that they are not, if at all, far removed from mid-table Division 2 teams.

Cork had a plan against Kerry, they will need an alternative one on Saturday.

The only objective is to be in the draw for the qualifiers on Monday morning!

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