GAAGO debate reminds us nothing beats being there when Cork are in action

Ger McCarthy on the unforgettable Cork-Tipp clash and hopes the Cork ladies footballers get to experience a similar atmosphere in West Cork on Sunday
GAAGO debate reminds us nothing beats being there when Cork are in action

CROWD-PLEASER: Over 36,000 savoured Saturday's Cork v Tipperary match.

I was fortunate to be one of the 36,675 individuals in attendance at last Saturday evening’s epic Cork and Tipperary Munster SHC clash.

At this point, that unforgettable match has been analysed, discussed and dissected.

What a game, what an atmosphere and what a night to be a Cork or Tipp hurling supporter.

You could feel the electricity of the build-up walking to the ground a full two hours before throw-in.

A balmy evening, supporters unashamedly decked out in their county’s colours, tinfoil-covered sandwiches and flasks of tea everywhere.

As a reporter, I envied those sitting outside pubs and happily supping their pints. The banter and craic was flying, everyone was in good form. Munster hurling at its best before a sliotar was thrown-in.

The match itself, especially the closing quarter, will live long in the memory. It is the first time I have experienced as exciting and overwhelming an atmosphere since Páirc Uí Chaoimh was redeveloped.

The South Stand was shaking when Robbie O’Flynn slalomed through for his goal.

The tremors were even more apparent when Darragh Fitzgibbon raised a green flag late on.

What a pity that thousands of GAA fans and supporters around the country were denied the opportunity to watch such an epic unfold on free-to-air television.

There are financial reasons behind this decision. Yet there can be no denying the GAA has scored a massive own goal by failing to understand the magnitude of making their most high-profile games pay-per-view.

The two best matches of this year’s All-Ireland championships, Clare versus Limerick and Cork versus Tipperary, have been exclusive to the GAAGO platform.

Most GAA fans in this country, both young and old, do not have adequate broadband access let alone the spare cash in such tight monetary times to shell out for GAAGO.

That’s why it is sad to think so many people missed out on witnessing one of the great Munster and GAA hurling occasions.


I met some Cork LGFA senior footballers outside Páirc Uí Chaoimh after the county’s senior hurling heroics late on Saturday night. Little did we realise that a similar comeback would take place at the same venue the following afternoon.

 Katie Quirke, Cork, eyes her Kerry opponent Aoife Dillane in last weekend's Páirc Uí Chaoimh action. Picture: Larry Cummins
Katie Quirke, Cork, eyes her Kerry opponent Aoife Dillane in last weekend's Páirc Uí Chaoimh action. Picture: Larry Cummins

Having experienced an indifferent National League campaign, Shane Ronayne’s side rebounded in style by overcoming Tipperary in the opening round of this year’s Munster LGFA championship.

Last Sunday, Cork faced off against Division 1 champions, last year’s All-Ireland SFC runners-up and the country’s in-form team, Kerry. Both sides knew a victory would all but guarantee a provincial final berth. There would be no holding back in this one.

Sadly, the contrast in Páirc Uí Chaoimh’s atmosphere could not have been starker compared to the evening before. Cork’s hurlers were roared on by 36,675 supporters. I doubt there were more than a few hundred in attendance at Cork and Kerry’s clash.

That didn’t stop both teams from contributing to a physical and hard-hitting matchup. The intensity of the tackles made up for empty stands on three sides of the ground.

A pulsating finish saw Cork score 2-4 without reply to force a 2-14 to 2-14 draw. Orlaith Cahalane, Róisín Phelan, Eimear Meaney, Katie Quirke and Eimear Kiely’s combined efforts enabled Cork to turn what looked like a resounding defeat into an unexpected draw. The Rebels might have snatched a win but, in the end, a draw was a fair reflection of a see-saw encounter.


Much like the Cork hurlers, Cork's ability to find the net at crucial junctures plus their never-say-die attitude means there is much to look forward to in the weeks ahead.

For Shane Ronayne and his players, a must-win provincial round-robin game against Waterford takes place in Clonakilty GAA’s Ahamilla complex on Sunday.

Bringing a high-profile senior championship game to West Cork (for the first time) represents a massive opportunity for clubs in the division and surrounding areas to come out and support their county.

Cork will need every bit of support they can get. This is a much improved Waterford team that drew with the Rebels during this year’s National League, could have beaten Kerry in the Munster opening round and saw off Tipperary last weekend.

These Cork LGFA inter-county players deserve to play in front of a huge crowd and experience an electric atmosphere. Let’s hope West Cork responds and fills the Ahamilla complex on what will be an historic occasion.

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