Cork downfall a sign of disconnect between fans and GAA teams

Cork downfall a sign of disconnect between fans and GAA teams
26,508 witnessed the Munster final between Tipperary and Waterford.

Has anybody stopped for a second to appreciate the socio-economic influences that could be playing a role in the current ills of all things Cork GAA?

In the days prior to the All-Ireland SHC final of 2013 the shortage of a buzz associated with such a momentous time-period across Leeside was worryingly noticeable, writes Peter McNamara.

The familiar excitement was missing in the build-up to the 2013 All-Ireland final.
The familiar excitement was missing in the build-up to the 2013 All-Ireland final.

In years past, the city centre would be awash with bunting and gripped by both anticipation and expectation in the week of an All-Ireland hurling final in particular.

Not that time. In fact, visual support on the ground was so scarce the local print and broadcast media felt the need to intervene and began actively encouraging businesses to get behind Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s team.

Of course, previously the local media would always urge people in and around the town to adorn their shop doors and windows with Rebel red prior to a September date at headquarters.

Yet, this was different. This time the encouragement was actually required in the first place and the local media knew it.

I recall strolling through Patrick Street on the Wednesday before the drawn final against Clare wondering if Cork had qualified for the final at all.

And no, it wasn’t too early in the week for colours to be on display as years before that the place would be covered in red and white from the weekend before an All-Ireland final.

Only now, having had a conversation on the subject with a friend from the Midlands on Monday morning, do I truly appreciate the significance of the disconnect between the people and businesses of the city with it’s hurling and football teams that that initial shortage of support represented.

Sport is taking its cue from society, it seems.

It's like a microcosm of it these days.

Local and national societies' sterile and structured demeanour is now reflected on the pitches all over Leeside and further afield.

In the more 'cosmopolitan' cities life is not what it once was. Any of the remaining seeds of uniqueness have been ripped out of its core.

Now things are as bland as every other corporate-dominated town or city.

And Cork, saddening and all as it is, is no different.

Where once local businesses in town with their distinctive style and produce were the heartbeat of the city, presently, the clichéd generalisation of quantity over quality has superseded that way of life driven by multinationals' figures-driven approach only.

Life has become too fixated with the end result of everything forgetting about the wonderful processes seen throughout previous decades to reach respective goals.

Work places nowadays are like regimented production lines where mavericks and mercurials need not apply.

Hurling and football are exactly like that now. Or at least the mavericks and mercurials are a frustratingly dying breed.

Systems, organisations and straitjackets are the order of the day now irrespective of the reality that none are foolproof methods of trying to achieve success. Take Waterford’s showing in the provincial final yesterday as Exhibit A.

Regardless, that point on systems, organisations and straitjackets remains a valid but tedious one already.

On Leeside there is a distinct disconnect between the local people and the town.

It's not the town they knew and loved growing up, certainly not for this writer anyway.

The characters have either passed or become disillusioned, the latter contingent peeved at what Patrick Street and Oliver Plunkett Street, for examples, are now - streets you could find in any city on the planet, really.

Nothing special anymore.

The city's formerly untouchable and unquantifiable 'Corkness' is diluted down to very little.

The town is losing its soul, one of the disadvantages of decentralisation at regional level as it spins off progressive and soaring suburbs.

Maybe people outside of the city and county will not understand this theory.

Maybe even some that do live here won't appreciate it.

However, this is an issue. It's there, a tangible and sobering feeling too, at that.

And the diminishing sense of 'Corkness', that definitive pride felt among those of the People's Republic, is mirrored in the performances of our inter-county sides.

The swagger has been drained out of our city and the teams' displays are also reflective of it.

The unique culture of Cork is fading and that sense of place and heritage seems to mean so much less now than they did even 10 to 15 years ago.

For the record, I don't expect everybody to 'get' this.

Yet, if even one Leesider nods in agreement it'll have been worth saying.

You see, for those everywhere but here, Cork is simply a far different area now to what it once was.

And where the Cork senior hurling team, especially, would have been an on-field illustration of all that was magical about Leeside, the eroding sense of identity in this neck of the woods is equally evident and showcased through the performances of Cork teams now.

And that’s a chastening realisation for us all.

It could be an irreversible trend too as the world continues to evolve at a rate of knots becoming a less localised ideology.

‘Corkness’ could be a thing of the past indefinitely.

However, it might not be just in Cork that it’s public are less in tune with their representative sides currently.

The attendance at the Munster SHC final on Sunday at the Gaelic Grounds was startling.

You could have strolled up to the gates at 3.55pm, got a terrace ticket and still have picked a view of the pitch that suited you.

In the noughties you would have to queue outside of your local county board offices for hours on end to get a ticket to the Munster hurling final.

It wouldn’t have mattered which counties were due to contest the fixture or what the venue was, the place would be rammed regardless.

However, then the game began and it was remembered exactly why attendances are below what we were accustomed to.

The joy felt by everything attached to Munster hurling final-day is thwarted by the expanding disconnect with the people that once revelled in the pride it generated.

A bit like Cork society and it’s GAA teams, if you will.

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