Micheál Aodh Martin relishing club ‘certainty’

One hundred and 12  days later than planned, the ever so slightly modified Cork county championship throws in this evening.
Micheál Aodh Martin relishing club ‘certainty’

READY TO GO: Cork County Board CEO/secretary Kevin O’Donovan, Castlehaven’s Conor Cahalane, Nemo Rangers’ and Cork goalkeeper Micheál Aodh Martin, Bon Secours Hospital Cork manager Harry Canning, Carberry’s John O’Rourke and Cork County Board chairperson Tracey Kennedy help launch the Bon Secours Cork Premier Senior Football Championship. Picture: Gerard McCarthy

One hundred and 12  days later than planned, the ever so slightly modified Cork county championship throws in this evening.

The three groups of four format agreed last year has managed to successfully survive the lockdown of recent months, but the truncated season means the number of knockout places up for grabs in each group has been cut from three to two.

This slimming down of knockout berths is not exactly good news for Valley Rovers or Bishopstown in Group 3 of the newly titled Bon Secours Cork Premier Senior Football Championship.

Why so, you enquire?

Well, the remaining two teams in the group are last year’s winners, Nemo Rangers, and the team they beat to reach the decider, Douglas.

Now, we certainly won’t go as far as to say it will be an insurmountable task for either Valleys or Bishopstown to squeeze their way into the top two and squeeze out one of Nemo or Douglas, especially when there’s not a jot of form to go on, but it won’t be in any way straightforward either.

Even in this year of immense upheaval, that the men from Nemo wear the title of reigning champions as the starting gun is fired couldn’t be further removed from that terribly overused ‘new normal’ phrase.

Nemo and Cork goalkeeper Micheál Aodh Martin is relishing this period of exclusive club activity, one he believes could benefit the 21-times champions. 

Now, that certainly isn’t good news for Bishopstown or Valley Rovers, or, indeed, every other team in the competition.

“Honestly, I am loving it. I don't know will I get in trouble for saying that,” he quips “I love the certainty it brings.

"I know later on in the year I'll be exclusively with Cork and I'll love that too.

“Nemo, we always get fairly seriously impacted by Cork’s season. There is a bit of guilt there when you are coming back from Cork and traditionally, that first game when we come back from Cork is always really tough for Nemo. 

"It is never our best performance. The third-round game against Dohenys last year would be an example of that.

“This year, with us all training as one and everyone really enjoying it, hopefully, it will stand to us.” Reflecting on the uncertainty which surrounded the GAA season throughout April and May, Martin never quite threw in the towel.

“I knew the will was there from everyone. If we got through the worst of it at the time, I just knew people weren’t going to abandon the season because it matters so much to so many people.

“A lot of people say that in the grand scheme of things, sport isn't important. One side of that is true, but the other side of that is people are desperate for it to come back, people were looking forward to games. 

"Players are only delighted to be back on a pitch. We’ve had big numbers at training since night one and you hear the same from every other club.”

 The Taoiseach’s son had established himself as Cork’s first-choice number one in the months before lockdown and was it not for a global pandemic, he would by now have made his Munster Championship debut.

That his time between the sticks for Cork has been disrupted is something he has not dwelled on.

“I haven't lost any sleep over that, I can tell you that for sure. I didn't even think twice with regard to myself and my position with Cork. 

"It is really a case of, one minute we thought we weren't going to be playing, now we are, so it is up to me to have a good club championship and see if I can get myself back in the frame for Cork when that time does arise later on.” 

And the hope is that time will arise and will not be scuppered by a second wave of the virus.

“The last week has brought a realisation that there is no such thing as being out of the woods. 

"We saw clubs up the country and here in Cork having to shut down activities for a couple of days as a precaution, so I am not taking for granted that there will be games.

“We just have to keep hoping that everyone keeps buying into the regulations and that we manage to keep the numbers under control. 

"If we do that, then the things we enjoy can keep going and maybe expand. We can only control ourselves. 

"In the same way I didn't lose sleep over my position with Cork, I haven't lost sleep over whether there will be a championship.

“I just keep focused on the next game and next training, and all going well, we get to keep going.” 

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