BEFORE looking ahead to Cork’s chances on Sunday, I think it’s only right that I inform you of my trip to Ballinaspittle Saturday evening.
Carrigaline won’t thank me for mentioning the moving statue, because in truth a few of their defenders sive zone assumed statue sque type status for periods in the opening 30 minutes.
Apologies gentle folk for not presenting you with a proper introduction, but the reason for my presence at the scenic venue was to watch the underdogs from Bandon land take on Carrigaline in the quarter-final of the premier intermediate hurling championship.
Six minutes slipped by without a sight of flag activity. The only real scoring chance came to the westerners, but a guy called Ronan Crowley drove the free wide of the target, but you can have that early on.
Then Niall O’Rourke, who when our Lord was his age he was being fitted for nails, won possession and laid it off to the aforementioned Crowley. Ronan’s modus operandi is rather simple. If a colleague is in a much better position than himself he will consider it, otherwise his natural instinct is to get the flagman moving.
Anyway, off with him before letting rip and green was the colour of choice. In the time when cloning was all the rage, Dolly came into our lives and 30 seconds after Ronan’s first we had our Dolly moment.
From the puck-out Joe Harrington found himself in possession and taking a leaf from O’Rourke he too presented the sliothar to Crowley, and yes you guessed it (I honestly believe that he ran across the same blades of grass), 30 seconds after the first goal he had another.
Even though Rob O’Shea’s 10th minute pointed free got Carrigaline showing an interest in the scoreboard, two pointed efforts by Crowley left seven between the sides. The Carrigaline defence, who at this stage was playing with the confidence normally associated with a Kilkenny football team, experienced another leaking moment. There was a breakdown in communication that big Phil Hogan would have difficulty bettering and Mark Sugrue had Bandon’s third goal.
It may have taken this Bandon team longer than the planners had in mind to arrive at this grade of hurling, but to get four goals in the opening act against a team who were serious contenders in many people’s opinions, was proof that they have earned their right of passage.
That fourth goal was created by 17-year-old Michael Cahalane, who after winning possession posted to the confident Crowley, and the resulting score meant that he had ownership of the match sliothar; a hat-trick hero.
Teddy McCarthy, since he arrived out west, has instilled a sense of competitiveness and controlled aggression that may have been absent in previous teams.
You get the impression that the colourful Glanmire man doesn’t employ the social science approach when getting his messages and philosophy across.
Put another way, if any member of this Bandon team are wondering what Teddy thinks of them, it just means that they should take a hearing test (I presume you get the message!).
However, let’s get this straight, each and every one of them have bought in and any player who may have been under the impression that it was their individual right to be the main man, has had a serious change of attitude.
Yes, all my plaudits thus far have been for the forward unit, but the defensive organisation was also magnificent. Three in particular had really impressive outings. James O’Donovan, whose other sporting dream is to win an All-Ireland senior bowling title, that can wait, wore the leader’s armband with total conviction.
Eoin O’Donovan, despite being slight in build, wins battles that at times he has no right even to be involved in. If the pound per pound ratio was applied, Eoin would be topping the charts.
During Ronan Curran’s days as a most influential centre-back with the Cork hurlers, it was like often got the impression that he was in Bluetooth communication with the sliothar, so good was his positioning sense. Donough Lucey’s role with this Bandon team is one of the best Ronan Curran’s take-offs I’ve witnessed.
Now, with all of that out of the way Bandon’s next outing is against Youghal in Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday night and the higher order experts have been in touch to tell me that this will mark the end of their journey to the promised land for 2012.
Seemingly the basis of the argument lies in the fact that the East Cork team’s defence doesn’t do charity and that West Cork fans will be denied the opportunity to view green flag activity from their young forward division. Honestly, it’s a game that can’t come quick enough.
An August Sunday and another All-Ireland football semi-final for the county’s football team. Yes it will be their greatest test thus far this year but whether it’s blind loyalty or otherwise, I am feeling confident.
The tactical preparation, that is now so much part of inter-county preparation, has been well and truly documented on other pages and issues of this publication but if anything Donegal have taken it to a new level again.
Last Saturday week at 10am one of my northern informants encountered three Donegal players on their way to training.
Nothing major about this you might suggest, but in this case there was none of the playing apparel such as boots shorts socks and shirts in evidence. They were not needed for this session as the majority of the day was to be spent viewing videos to ensure that their system will be in full working order come throw-in time on Sunday.
Last Saturday morning then the entire squad headed to the wilderness and beauty of the Innishowen peninsula and returned on Sunday afternoon, with the majority of time being spent on tactical sessions.
Come to think of it, maybe the Cork boys were up to the same activity but our local informants were not doing their job.
Cork’s journey to greatness has two hurdles left, let’s hope that come 5pm on Sunday, that there is just one hurdle left.