FOR a lot of people the 2022 GAA year ended on July 24 with Kerry’s narrow win over Galway in the All-Ireland football final.
Their next emotional engagement with our national sports will come when the leagues recommence.
However, for a lot of people that game was simply the starter pistol for the real stuff, the club championships.
Perhaps the one cohort of GAA people who are struggling to adapt to this new season structure are the dual clubs, as the condensing of the club season means that there simply is no let up for them at the minute. Week in, week out, they find themselves in a battle, swapping big ball for small, with the goal often flip-flopping from week to week depending on whether they are holding a hurley or not.
Kanturk will feel that they should be playing at a higher grade than Premier Intermediate in football, while in hurling they are in nosebleed territory, all the way up in Premier Senior.
Their opening 4-13 to 0-9 football win over Naomh Abán went viral due to the fact that their 4-13 total was divided up amongst seven different members of the Walsh clan. They will expect to be right in the mix to win that title and gain promotion this year, with arguably their biggest obstacle to this being their hurling commitments.
They lost their maiden Premier Senior tie against Newtown and were then wiped out by a red-hot Douglas outfit. With their last remaining match being against reigning county champions Midleton the odds are now looking like they will finish pointless in their first campaign at this level and will probably face a relegation play-off later in the year, possibly when their attention needed to be focusing on the football.
Newcestown are in a similar situation, just with different codes. In football, they are a proud Premier Senior side, but got thrown into the Group of Death in Group C with Nemo Rangers, Castlehaven and Clonakilty and opened their campaign with a 2-10 to 1-5 defeat to Nemo. They will certainly be eyeing that clash with Clonakilty with a lot of interest, as a loss there could see them right in the relegation mix.
While dealing with this, they also have to concentrate significant resources and energies on emerging from a tough Senior A hurling group with Mallow, Fermoy and Cloyne. Fr O’Neill’s and Bride Rovers look strong in this grade, but Newcestown harbour clear ambitions of becoming a dual Premier Senior club, with a lot of the same players on both teams, but again the main stumbling block might be that they are fighting on two fronts.
In football, they will know that the Nemo and Clonakilty players may have some hurling commitments but nothing like what they face, while Castlehaven do have the three Cahalanes embroiled in their own Group of Death with St Finbarr’s in the Premier Senior hurling championship.
The Barrs have just registered a famous one-point victory over Blackrock to go top of the minefield group that is Group C, but they know that a defeat to Sarsfields would probably see them drop to third, assuming the Rockies did enough to beat Charleville in their last game. They either go through the group undefeated or they go out, there is no middle ground.
This effort not only affects the Barrs hurlers, but it affects the campaigns of the footballers of the Barrs and Castlehaven as well – although I am sure a few footballing men down in Castlehaven would not lose too much sleep if the Cahalanes’ hurling campaign were to be cut short, meaning they could focus fully on the big ball.
Ultimately the Barrs’ qualification might come down to the fact that they drew with Charleville in their opening round when they let a late four-point lead slip away.
Damien and Conor Cahalane were both late withdrawals from the starting line-up that evening, as injuries picked up while helping Castlhaven to victory over Clon the week before meant they were unable to start for their hurling club.
This is a perfect example of the difficulties facing dual clubs.