There’s something unmistakable in the air. A threatened ideology is blossoming again. A people are emboldened.
Corkness is on the rise.
This appears to be bigger than the annual wave of nostalgia and eudaemonia released when the Holly Bough hits the streets.
And it might be more sustainable than the peaks of hauteur on Leeside after the obligatory Keano press conference during every international break.
To some extent, the current swell might be traced back to the O’Donovans, though there is a lack of complaint from those lads that many sons of Cork mightn’t necessarily identify with.
There is Anna Geary’s takeover of RTÉ to consider. And Tony O’Donoghue’s ascent to a national watchdog, via Martin O’Neill’s truculence.
And Stefanie Preissner’s comedy Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope, which many hailed as the unheard voice of millennial Irish women. Or for its dealings with The Drink. Though it’s most important contribution was to explore the unbearable burden of being from Cork while being away from Cork. Like.
Whatever sparked it, and the recent small hiccup in Kilkenny’s sense of well-being shouldn’t be overlooked either — or Kerry’s, for that matter — there are several strands to the current renaissance in Corkness.
After the FAI Cup final, Cork City keeper Mark effing McNulty reasserted an intrinsic element; the idea of Cork as victims. Outsiders who never get their due. Whose efforts and progress nobody notices.
Over the years, the certainty that Cork never gets a fair crack of the whip has been blamed for everything from the road from Charleville to the flop of Cork-heavy ‘supergroup’ Six to Joe Lynch’s pay dispute with Glenroe.
And probably for the lack of regard among the critics for Danny La Rue’s turn in Hello Dolly. Tradition demands Corkness must remain well aware that the Dubs get everything. But as we cannot stress often enough, Corkness has always been most potent when it insists that the Dubs nor anyone else have anything they want anyway.
So it is the gospel of Corkness preached this week by Patrick Horgan that will hearten them most, coming in the arena where they desperately need this injection.
The small matter of Glen Rovers’ rise to the Munster club final is a bonus, particularly if the Glen can supply a few more lads energised by defiance.
But even more important was Horgan’s insistence that Cork, as a matter of urgency, will be going back to doing things ‘The Cork Way’.
An admission that they had tried other ways but had found nothing there that suited them.
There are small complications here, of course, in this assertion of identity. The Cork Way, as Horgan knows it from their most recent triumphs, is the way Cork GAA writer Kevin Cashman once dismissed as “the Cyril Farrell system” of soloing and handpassing. As such.
“That thing is a truncation and a desecration — as who should ordain that Mozart be played with bodhrans and tin whistles.”
But I don’t think we need to go looking for devil in the detail.
In any case, Horgan smoothed things out by itemising The Cork Way to encompass “running, plenty of scores, exciting hurling,” which shouldn’t brook too many objections.
And the central pillar of The Cork Way will be an insistence that Cork line up for every contest on an equal footing.
That they will grant themselves parity — at worst — of esteem.
That they won’t be making the kind of concessions and adjustments that brought Corkness to its lowest ebb last May in Thurles, when they played the spare man and conceded a way of life as much as the 22 points.
But there’s even more to this resurgence. “You can more than make up for lack of traditional Corkness by providing players with a high-performance environment,” offered Kieran Shannon — one of their own — last year, when they had more or less given up the ghost.
But this week, amid the bulletins advertising the new Páirc and its high-performance bells and whistles, came confirmation that they are not ready to abandon Corkness yet.
Buried deep in the prospectus with word of gymnasiums and warm-up areas and LED lighting and 72 food kiosks and 32 turnstiles was an important detail.
“Bar one, every contractor and sub-contractor on site is from Cork.”
That admission that things aren’t perfect, that they have one man still to root out, shows that honesty, alongside aspiration, will have its part to play in Corkness, going forward.
And we shouldn’t, I’m certain, lump this policy in with the kind of inward thinking that seems to be sweeping the globe at the moment.
I feel the Corkness they are describing here isn’t a prisoner of birthplace, more a state of mind. That’s all they needed you to share, a few years ago, when they were trying to flog Rebel passports. And they are good enough to take lads in, in fairness, from Timbuktu or, God forbid, Tipp.
But Corkness is theirs to harness. We should be wary now.
Snub may Tipp the balance
Cork will be dangerous, then, in the next semi-meaningful inter-county hurling match to take place.
But fortunately for Tipp, we have got the few breaks ourselves.
While Cork’s conviction that the place gets a raw deal is based on healthy paranoia, Tipp’s certainty that everyone is agin them is sadly more grounded in reality.
Fresh evidence piles almost daily. Seamie and Paudie denied at the All Stars. Niall Quinn abused to high heaven every Sunday on Twitter. Una Healy’s debut of her first solo single relegated from the Late Late to the Nathan Carter Show. Roz Purcell and Donal Ryan bet at the book awards.
This week alone, they are trying to take the train off us, as well as denigrating Thurles as not fit to accommodate rugby nabobs.
But it’s all powerful material, of course, when it comes to rebuilding The Savage Hunger. Come next May, that could be worth a few points.
And the latter snub has the double-edged benefit of sparing the county even further contamination from The Ugly Game.
A blight that might yet cancel out Corkness once the Páirc becomes a rugby stadium.
We are the greatest
As 2016 crosses off its victims — Bowie, Prince, Cohen — that old nod to our privilege gets reheated.
How the world is 4.543 billion years old and you managed to live at the same time as Bowie/Prince/Cohen.
The sports fans among us must count ourselves even more blessed, it seems, managing to exist in the same fortnight as the greatest Irish sporting achievement of all time as well as the coronation — in New York last Sunday morning — of the greatest sportsman in our storied history.
That, or we have managed to be alive in the age of peak hyperbole.
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