You probably know the Páirc Uí Chaoimh playing surface yesterday was the subject of much negative comment, to put it mildly.
You may not be familiar with the fact that inquiries to the Cork County Board about the playing surface were referred by officials to Peter McKenna, the Croke Park stadium director.
Before Christmas, McKenna revealed the size of the Pairc Ui Chaoimh stadium debt to the Irish Examiner; he added that the playing surface “will have to be replaced. The surface is very unstable, as you may have seen earlier in the year, so we’ll have to do some fairly aggressive remedial work there. I think it should have started earlier and we may not have time to get it done because of the winter weather.”
However, a statement issued not long after McKenna’s comments by the directors of Staid Cois Laoi, the board running the stadium, stated: “Remedial work will take place on the playing surface to ensure that
it will be capable of hosting games fixed for Páirc Uí Chaoimh in 2019.
“This work will be completed ahead of the commencement of the Allianz Leagues and it is not expected that a replacement of the pitch will be needed in the short term.”
Readers can make up their own minds as to whether that work was completed, or whether the pitch should be replaced.
Kildare’s Cian O’Neill and Cork’s Ronan McCarthy admitted that the poor quality of the Páirc Uí Chaoimh pitch impacted on yesterday’s League tie on Leeside.
Said O’Neill: “It wasn’t easy to be as clinical and as fluid in attack because the pitch stopped us from doing that. Any time you went to change direction, you’d be slipping and balls weren’t coming up off the surface.
"We created a lot of chances today and the standing leg was an issue for some of the players, miskicks happened.”
Pitch in a desperate state here at Pairc Ui Chaoimh. pic.twitter.com/AnRILEaunE— Eoghan Cormican (@cormicaneoghan) February 3, 2019
McCarthy felt the conditions had contributed to Kildare’s first-half penalty.
“The pitch was heavy. The one bit where the pitch really affected us was the penalty. We got a great block down on the Kildare player shooting for a point.
"The ball ricocheted up into the air, Ronan O’Toole, who was standing under it, lost his footing and the penalty came from that.
"It left players unsure of their footing and their passing.”
With four full debuts handed out by Dublin on Saturday evening and a fifth player, Darren Gavin coming on for his first taste of league action, the depth of the county’s reserves was underlined.
Jim Gavin is already up to a figure of 26 players used in just two league games.
To put that number in some context, Monaghan only used 27 players in the entire 2017 league and just 31 last year.
Dublin still have Stephen Cluxton, Ciaran Kilkenny, Paddy Andrews, Cian O’Sullivan, Eoghan O’Gara, Kevin McManamon, Philly McMahon, and Bernard Brogan to get onto the field.
Galway have used 25 players so far though have been forced into shuffling things around with injuries and the delicate balancing of the Corofin players forcing Kevin Walsh to dig deep into his reserves.
“You saw the game out there today was a hard, physical game but ultimately there wasn’t anything that you’d consider a dangerous tackle, that merited a red card.”
Those were the words of Clare co-manager Gerry O’Connor after yesterday’s game in Ennis although Shane Golden’s late hit on Huw Lawlor was borderline and his yellow card drew the ire of the large Kilkenny support in Cusack Park.
But it was certainly as dangerous as Gearóid Hegarty’s elbow on Barry Heffernan was in the Gaelic Grounds on Saturday.
Heffernan looked shaken after the foul and it’s worth pointing out the Nenagh man had to take time out of the game three years ago because of repeated concussion.
Heffernan suffered concussion on three occasions between December 2015 and May 2016.
Nobody wants to sanitise hurling but such facts have to be considered when we’re discussing tackles in and around the head area.
The team’s reliance on the Doonbeg man’s brilliance was complete with his 1-1 in injury-time, out of an individual total of 1-7, to snatch an unlikely draw against Armagh in an absolute bear-pit of an atmosphere in Newry.
Both scores came when he was faced with two sideline balls.
Somehow he conjured those situations into a goal and a point.
His early years with Clare coincided with mediocrity for the senior team, but since Colm Collins’s arrival in 2014 Clare’s fortunes have been transformed and Tubridy has got to enjoy big wins in Munster and in the qualifiers, the kind of stages his incredible talent deserves.
He’ll be 32 this year but Clare need him to play on for as long as possible and stay healthy, “Tubridy is a beautiful kicker,” purred boss Collins after this latest masterclass.
“He is playing as well as he ever played, like a young fella.”