There’s been a lot of discussion regarding Cork GAA’s fortunes in the aftermath of the weekend’s league results. The hurlers are finding it tough after their opening day victory against Clare. Since then they have fallen to both Dublin and Kilkenny with relative ease. There is hope there that they can still turn their season around with the small ball. Each of their three games to date saw bright spells and some great individual displays. The Cork hurlers are a work in progress as they continue the rebuilding process under the management of Kieran Kingston.
It was the display in Cusack Park, Ennis though that really set off the alarm bells for most Cork GAA supporters. The Cork football faithful turned up for their Division 2 NFL game with Clare expecting an easy win. 70 minutes of football later, they were heading back to Cork questioning what’s gone wrong since their All-Ireland win in 2010.
The media too have gone into overdrive talking about the poor fortunes of Cork and the ‘surprise’ win for Clare.
There certainly are problems with Cork football. The performances have been flat and one dimensional. There doesn’t appear to be any drive or passion in the jersey if their four league games to date are anything to go by.
Their opening day draw with Galway has only been met with a win over a poor Fermanagh and followed by heavy defeats to Kildare and Clare. The malaise isn’t confined to the county side. Even in the Munster club championship, no Cork club, once the dominant county, haven’t won the title since Nemo Rangers did so back in 2010.
But was the result at the weekend such a surprise?
Paddy Kelly remarked on RTÉ‘s Allianz League Sunday:
“When you lose to a team like Clare, who traditionally would be a Division 4 side, obviously, there’s going to be question marks.”
This belies an attitude all too common in GAA circles. ‘Let the big teams play the game. Get the minnows out of the way.’
It is this attitude which has given us the ridiculous ‘Super 8’ structure from Congress. The players lining out for Clare on Sunday would have grown up watching Clare play Division 1 and 2 football all through the 1990s and into this century. That’s the tradition they’re following. The slide in Clare football only really began with relegation from Division 1B of the league in 2002.
In recent years, there has been a marked revival under the stewardship of Colm Collins which now leaves the Banner eyeing promotion to Division 1 at the halfway stage of this year’s NFL. The brand of football is quick and exciting. What’s more, the win versus Cork, being achieved without talisman Gary Brennan, proves they’re not a one-man band.
The only people surprised by the result on Sunday were those who haven’t been watching either team for the past few years. Clare are minnows no more and people need to show this team the respect they have earned.