Cork just about did enough to record a deserved victory over Kerry in this John Kerins Cup opener in Tralee this afternoon as the hosts very nearly salvaged an unlikely draw from a deficit of five points entering injury time. 1-1 from substitute Darragh Hayes appeared to be enough to ensure Cork’s win but a penalty from Paul Walsh followed by a Killian Falvey point nearly ensured the match ended on parity.
Put aside momentarily the gulf in strength and game experience between the two sides in Tralee yesterday. Any cursory examination of what Cork started with, brought on, didn’t use — or have away on club duty with Nemo Rangers — would lead one to conclude there’s impressive depth and breadth to the Cork football squad as 2020 looms.
The Athletic Grounds has been a happy hunting ground for Cork football in the past but it’s a daunting place Sunday. A win there combined with a Tipperary victory or draw against Clare in Thurles can save Cork from Division 3. And yet that sense of foreboding is difficult to shift.
It might only be the McGrath Cup, but the Cork footballers, for a variety of reasons, would be best served by ensuring the pre-season silverware is perched at the front of the team bus when it pulls out of Willie Clancy country tomorrow afternoon.
It’s only February, but are summer line-ups coming into view? A chat with Ronan McCarthy indicates that while the Cork football manager isn’t about to pick his championship 15 now, he does concede things are “starting to take shape bit by bit”.
The evenings are that bit brighter, all the hurt and disappointment of last year is long forgotten, hope is back in the hearts of supporters in every corner of the country. There is a road to some kind of glory for everyone. This could be the year.