ALL good things must come to an end was one of the deflationary emotions that filtered through on Monday morning in the aftermath of the All-Ireland senior football quarter-final draws.
After the generosity of the Draw Lord in presenting Cork with Louth and Limerick at home, he went gung-ho in his devotion to the Dubs and as a consequence, the John Cleary-managed David will face Goliath in the Dubs’ playground on Saturday week with a 6pm throw-in.
Some of our dear readers may point out that it will be a meeting of two Division 2 sides... thanks for that!
Prior to any further mention of what some would describe as a potential Croke Park massacre, let us don the positive garments in relation to victory over Limerick.
First in line for the plaudits, are those who ensured that there was a large cohort of impressionable young audience present. The decision to have the Development Squads in their Cork gear together with the many victorious Sciath na Scol teams from their recent competitions was a real positive development.
For far too long, many of us were guilty of complying with the narrative that “nobody supports the footballers” without making an effort to do something about it.
Obviously, having the two recent games in Páirc Uí Chaoimh was a help, but nonetheless a wee bit of thinking outside the box, had Cork players in the unfamiliar territory of selfie and autograph land. It was a real pleasure to view.
To the team itself, some may find it challenging to come up with an appropriate metric of its success or otherwise in 2022. The acceptance of a few salient facts could be a starting point.
The Louth and Limerick game indicated to a great degree that this is Cork’s level at this moment in time.
Secondly, that scenario is unlikely to alter greatly in the next year or two so, but the ability to progress can be provided for.
Lest I forget, one really good news story of the latter part of the campaign was the sight of Sean Powter being able to get through a number of games injury-free. I am not privy as to how this has come about but hopefully it can continue. His role as a defender and defensive extra is crucial.
Staying with the infirmary theme, we are led to believe that players such as Liam O’Donovan, Sean Meehan, Killian O’Hanlon and Conor Corbett are making steady progress. In Meehan’s case, if the stories emanating are accurate, his recovery is in Lazarus territory.
After the Dublin game, those parties, who have a real stake in this, will, I have no doubt get together to review and then plan for 2023.
The outcome of that review will have to lead to the appointment of John Cleary (I am assuming that the Castlehaven man is available) as the bainisteoir which could see some changes in the backroom set-up.
All of the present managerial team were put in place under Keith Ricken’s watch, so I would think, that is only natural, that some changes will arise here.
As expected, the Cork hurlers got through their preliminary quarter-final unscathed in a tight narrow pitch in Belfast at the weekend to set up Saturday’s quarter-final meeting with Galway in Thurles on Saturday.
We witnessed the challenges faced by defeated provincial finalists last weekend where all four lost their Round 2 football qualifiers.
Galway’s loss to Kilkenny in the Leinster final was real set back and one would have to harbour doubts as to how they can recover.
For what it is worth, I think Kieran Kingston’s charges should get over this one.
If Cork do win, the result of the other quarter-final between Clare and Wexford could determine how the semi-final may pan out. If Wexford win, Cork will play Kilkenny, a Banner victory would see the Rebels and the Treaty men lock horns once again.
Some of you will have noticed that Cork’s 2022 championship commenced last week with the playing of four games in the Colleges/Divisions Section. A further two games are scheduled for this week.
The reason, for the early visit to the said championships, is to make a favourable comment on these much-maligned divisions and colleges outfits.
In case, you think that a road to Damascus scenario has arisen in relation to the two educational establishments, it hasn’t and I still hold the view that they should not be included.
So, what is now on offer, if you wish, is two separate competitions in each code.
In football, five divisions, Avondhu, Beara, Carbery, Imokilly and Muskerry, get to play in a tournament that runs on Thursday nights, where each team is guaranteed at least two games with semi-finals scheduled for Thursday, June 30 and the final pencilled in for a week later.
The winner here will then join the UCC, MTU and Duhallow in two semi-finals and a final with the winner entering the PSF championship at the quarter-final stage.
The format for the hurling is exactly the same, with the five preliminary teams being, Avondhu, Carbery, Carrrigdhoun, Muskerry and Duhallow. The semi-final here has a Tuesday, June 28 date attached, the final going ahead seven days later. The winner will then join the two third-level colleges and Imokilly to provide a winner, to enter the quarter-final stage of the PSH championship.
In the circumstances, I think this format is as good as it can get and from the evidence of the games so far, there appears to be an appetite for it. Interestingly, if that is the correct term, Seandún are the only division of the eight that have decided not to enter either a football or a hurling team.