WITHOUT doubt, the major talking point from the three quarter-finals of the Cork County Premier SHC last weekend was Blackrock’s victory over Imokilly after a penalty shootout.
Full marks to them for holding their nerve in that most difficult of situations and now they have to be regarded as marginal favourites to regain the title that they held in 2020.
However, the question must be posed, is a penalty shootout the right way to decide a game of hurling of such magnitude?
The GAA landscape is much changed from what it used to be and a lot of genuine fans are not happy with some of the changes that are happening.
The decision to determine the outcome of that game or other games with a penalty shootout was obviously made known to all the participants in the quarter-finals last weekend although Rockies manager, Louis Mulqueen said that he only became aware of it on the Friday night before the game.
The Clare man, however, was delighted that his goalkeeper Gavin Connolly was in such sublime form, denying the first three Imokilly penalty-takers and as a consequence ensuring that the Church Road team progressed to the last four.
Connolly is a top-notch keeper and he proved that again with those three saves.
However, it brings us back to the question of penalties being used to decide the outcome of a game.
We are all aware of how tight schedules are now, the domestic programme having to be completed by a certain time in order to have things in readiness for the provincial club championships.
There might be an issue with a club having quite a few dual players involved and finding a replay date might not be easy.
Then again if given the choice of replaying a game two or three nights later or having it decided by a penalty shootout, nine times out of 10 the answer would be a replay no matter what difficulties that might create.
If there is no resolution after the 20 minutes of extra time, go again for another 10 minutes and see what happens.
If that fails, maybe the introduction of the golden score, the first team that registers a score wins the game which might be more acceptable.
Like everything else, there will be varying viewpoints on the issue.
At least quite a few of the losing Imokilly squad last Sunday are still involved with their clubs and that probably softened the blow for them.
But if it had been the Rockies, all their hard work in Church Road for many months would have been ended by something that has only been introduced in the very recent past.
At least no club lost their status last Sunday as a result of penalties not being converted.
Last season, Carrigtwohill lost their premier senior status in a relegation decider against Charleville, a game of massive magnitude and that was utterly wrong because there was more than adequate time to pencil in a replay.
In the aftermath of that game Charleville manager, Mark Foley said the outcome was unjust on Carrigtwohill.
"I know there are rules but it is very unfair to be relegated on penalties, no team deserved to lose," he said.
Penalties might be compulsive viewing for a neutral but the observation from this quarter is that there should be some other way.
Everything else about the current structure of the Cork championships has been hugely successful, the group format in particular and the hope is that the best is yet to come.
Anyway, it’s done and dusted now and the Rockies are getting ready for a crack off Erin’s Own in the semi-final while in the other last four game, it’s the Barrs against Newtown.
So, there is the possibility of a Barrs-Rockies final, bringing back memories of other times but the two others will have an awful lot to say in trying to prevent that.
Another matter that is generating quite a lot of debate is the fact entry into games now has to be done online with no money changing hands at the turnstile.
That is a matter of concern to a lot of the older generation who simply are not technology friendly or don’t possess the necessary mechanism to be able to complete the transaction.
Fair enough, we are living now in the age of technology and that is the future.
People have to accept that online ordering is necessary in a lot of cases, tickets for major provincial and All-Ireland games but at local level maybe having one gate open where a latecomer can pay with cash might make things a bit easier for some.
Going back to the games, East Cork teams are leading the way again in the chase for honours with Erin’s Own, Fr O’Neill’s, Bride Rovers, Castlemartyr, Castlelyons, Dungourney, Lisgoold, Sarsfields and Russell Rovers all through to the last four of the major hurling competitions.
That’s nine clubs from the barony heading for the penultimate fence.
There are some potentially cracking local derbies to pencil into the diary, Castlemartyr against Castlelyons in the PIHC, Sars and Dungourney in the IAHC and a real big one involving Fr O’Neill’s and Bride Rovers in the Senior A championship.
The double-header Saturday week at headquarters involving, Castlemartyr and Castlelyons and Bride Rovers and O’Neill’s is surely loaded with huge potential.
Imokilly might have bowed out last weekend from the Premier SHC but the strength of the game in East Cork remains as formidable as ever.
To sum it all up, the Cork County Board got it perfectly correct with the current structure because what it has all done is to create a fairer opportunity for every club, loads of talking points and a far greater interest base.