Just under 8,000 at Páirc Uí Chaoimh for Cork football’s blue riband on Sunday. Though one of them came up shy, an important sidebar was that two of the county’s biggest towns had teams marching behind the pre-match parade. Clonakilty and Mallow are the sort of urbanisations that need to be producing good teams and options for Cork’s football management, and the progress of Kanturk and Newmarket in the Premier IFC and Mitchelstown to Cork’s IFC final is no bad thing either.
Will Keith Ricken be seduced by Mark White’s rampaging runs and radar boot? There’s a case for sure. Is David Lowney going to pursue a place with the Cork hurlers or offer the hard-running, intelligent movement to Cork that is now de rigueur with the top tier football counties?
The case for a Stephen Sherlock return is not so much whether he is an asset as how does Cork employ that asset — or do they eschew same and continue to develop the likes of Cathail O’Mahony and Damien Gore for the inside lines. The sort of headaches any manager wants, the demographic curve any right-minded County Board is pleased to see.
Even if you are not from Cork, chances are the name of St Finbarr’s keeper caught your eye. John Kerins.
Anyone beyond college years will remember the personable gentleman that stood between the posts for Cork in their golden era from 1987-1990. When days like this only remind us all that John Kerins was taken too young, we thoughtlessly forget from whom. Not yet 40, he left his wife and son to try and put one foot in front of the other.
They’d have been extraordinary if they were good for anything more, but Ann Kerins and young John ploughed on, mother blessed with a charismatic, defiant personality. After his semi-final penalty heroics, it might have been fanciful of anyone to think that John Kerins would stand so tall again in the Premier SFC final — but two first-half saves from likely Clonakilty goal chances were to prove critical in the outcome.
Like anyone should doubt his facility to rise and rise further. That drop of rain after the final at the Páirc… you know where that came from…
Statistics are meant to put meat on the bone, but often they are harsh and chilling. And don’t tell the true story.
Sunday was the sixth time in the last decade St Michael’s have tried and failed to gain promotion via a county final to the top tier of Cork football. Every which way they’ve been denied — by a point on three different occasions — and here it was a Mallow goal in lost time that finished them off.
Those who know the GAA culture in Cork will appreciate that St Michael’s operate in the same parish as Blackrock hurling (or Blackrock National Hurling Club to natives), just as Glanmire work to co-exist with Sarsfields on the eastern fringes of the city. It’s a tough beat at times but if the proximity to Church Road is a handicap, St Michael’s do an impressive job in camouflaging it.
Their minors went to a Premier I final this year, and the conveyor belt above and below them sees the club appearing regularly at the business end of under age championships. Their day will come. And it will be all the more dazzling when it does.