Paudie Palmer: Fans can make the difference for Cork footballers on Sunday

Supporters helped John Cleary's side over the line against Louth and can do the same for Limerick clash at Páirc Uí Chaoimh
Paudie Palmer: Fans can make the difference for Cork footballers on Sunday

Corks Brian Hayes in action against Louth. Picture: INPHO/Ken Sutton

THREE Cork teams remain in championship 2022 and we are on the home straight; a few weeks ago, we would definitely have taken that.

On Saturday the senior hurlers travel to Belfast (2pm) in what is termed a preliminary quarter-final which should result in them playing Galway a week later in an All-Ireland quarter-final proper.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the great big day red supporters weren’t putting together their draft begging letter for July 17 admission slips into Croke Park.

The minor footballers, courtesy of doing their own version of formbook shredding, face Derry at Portlaoise also on Saturday at 6pm in the All-Ireland football quarter-final in what will undoubtedly be a massive test.

In the Ulster final against Tyrone, it appears that the Oak Leaf County were on top in most sectors except the scoreboard, losing on a tally of 4-8 to 0-16.

To add to the Rebel challenge, the Ulster minor football championship was a good deal more competitive than its southern equivalent.


Having mentioned that, we could say that after their first-round heavy defeat to Kerry, this young Rebel side are in bonus territory. The senior footballers are now one victory away from an All-Ireland quarter clash with one of the four provincial champions.

The Draw Lord again stepped up to the plate last Monday morning when he paired the John Cleary-managed outfit against Limerick.

It would be remiss of me not to mention that Billy Lee the Limerick manager didn’t send a letter of protest to the Draw Lord on being paired with their Munster neighbours.

It could be argued that this column has an overreliance on vertically challenged French man Napoleon for inspiration. His demand for “lucky generals” comes to mind in relation to two 2022 Cork football managers.

It appeared that Keith Ricken’s portion of good luck could be measured with a teaspoon while John Cleary appears to have it in spades.

After the weekend’s happenings in the hurling amphitheatre of Semple Stadium, where Clare and Limerick ensured that hurling was back at number one in the charts, one Monday morning features writer mentioned that the greats of the game such as Ring, Mackey, a few Doyles and one or two others would agree with him.

Not wishing to knock him off his pedestal, I would suggest that all those former greats played a game that is quite a distance away from the one played by the modern Cú Chulainns. In the majority of team games, possession is king and hurling and football are no different.

Back in the good old days if an inter-county hurler hit the sliotar a distance of 90 metres or so, and even if an unmarked opponent picked it up, he would be considered a freak of nature.

Today, a 90-metre drive that ends up in the hands of an unattended opponent could cause the striker to be the subject of a curley-finger viewing.

We will depart the hurling arena for a moment and take you to Páirc Uí Chaoimh for our assignment featuring Cork and Louth.

There was no real danger that the pandemonium that presented in Paris a week earlier was going to feature. However, it was noticeable that clubs had made efforts to get young people to attend.


This may not appear to be a significant event but make no mistake, when the game was on the home straight and there for the taking, those young and not so young supporters made a difference.

They could do likewise this Sunday in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Ok, it would fit the narrative to suggest that the game was on the lower end of the entertainment scale.

However, for this corner at least, it gave rise to a few scenarios.

When Chris Kelly, who was making his championship debut, placed the ball on the tee he must have been wondering what all the furore of finding a Cork player with his kick-out was about.

As soon as the ball went dead at the Cork end, all, and I mean all, of the Louth players retreated behind their own 45. I had never witnessed this previously.

Cork manager John Cleary at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Cork manager John Cleary at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Kelly could afford the drive the ball almost 60 metres and be 100% sure of finding a colleague. Then the crossfield passing began; well what else were Cork supposed to do?

As yours truly was on radio commentary duty it was, shall we say, quite challenging to make it sound interesting.

The co-commentator, John Fintan Daly, declared that we were present at a sports event other than a Gaelic football match. He didn’t title it, but in his descriptions, he used terms more at home in the worlds of basketball, rugby league, and rugby union.

I must say that I was a tad disappointed, that JFD wasn’t able to come up with a name for this new sport.

The half-time refreshment break was one where the negative energy far outweighed the benefits of consuming the delicious savouries, given the expressions of horror at Mickey Harte’s tactics.

However, coming over the final fence, this was still a two-horse race and until Colm O’Callaghan got Cork’s second goal in the 73rd minute the game was still there to be won and lost.

A strong argument could be made that had the new Cork keeper not made a pair of excellent saves late on, the Louth men would have recorded a famous victory.

If one could use the closeness of the contest as a metric of entertainment value, then this contest did measure up in that regard. I must confess the challenge of keeping the listeners entertained for the final 20 minutes or so was quite easy.

I expect that come 3pm on Sunday afternoon next, the aforementioned footballers will be awaiting the Draw Lord’s final dispatch for 2022. Luck has always been a companion of the victorious.

Napoleon was a wise man!

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