Diary of a Cork football fan: Part 12
At the time of writing, it has been four days since Cork’s exit from the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship and the dust has well and truly settled. Finally now events can be looked at in the cold light of day and the disappointment, while still raw, is a little less protruding.
First thing is first and I have to acknowledge that on the day, Donegal were the better team and deserved to win. Not to do so would be churlish and short-sighted on my part. Donegal have come on no end this year and proven a lot of people wrong, myself included. While their ‘football’ last year was about as attractive a prospect as Jack O’ Connor in Lycra, they have certainly worked on their attacking play in the meantime.
Bad luck did play its part in the defeat of course. Had Colm O’ Neill’s effort 47 minutes in rattled the net instead of the crossbar the game would have been turned on its head. A disastrous display of refereeing by David Coldrick did not help matters and I certainly wouldn’t be planning any holidays in West Cork if I were him. All that said, Donegal were good value for their win.
When the final whistle was blown, putting us out of our misery, the class of the Donegal supporters shone through. I couldn’t move five yards without being given genuine commiserations by Donegal fans, there was nothing facetious about any of it. It is hard to begrudge a county with such decent supporters a place in the final.
However, yet again some Cork supporters seem to have lost the head and are not only throwing the baby out with the bathwater, they are drowning it beforehand. Cork did not become a bad team overnight by losing to Donegal, the understandable disappointment at the loss should not cloud people’s judgement. The fundamentals of this Cork team are still sound. The team is in a healthy state and further All-Irelands are achievable.Whether or not there is a change in management and whether or not one or two players retire, there is still a solid core. We should not forget that.
I travelled home to West Cork on Sunday (having been offered a lift) with a heavy heart and woke up on Monday feeling numb. Defeats like these affect me for several days. However, despite the disappointment I have not given up on this team and I never will.
At this point in time, Conor Counihan’s future is unclear, but I personally want to pay tribute to him. He came in to steady the ship in 2008 and he did so. An All-Ireland (for a county who let’s remember had only won six before in our history), three NFL titles (four if you count the division Two win) and three Munster championships is not a bad return at all.
The All-Ireland came off the back of a family bereavement and his composure at that time was incredible. Aside from anything to do with football, he is a great man and I feel that sometimes the armchair critics need to realise that at the end of the day, the people they put the boot into have jobs and families just like they do. This is not the English Premier League.
To the selectors and backroom people, again a very sincere thanks and I hope most will still be involved next year. I have been lucky enough to get to know some of these people and it is amazing the amount of dedication that they all put in.
Of course the players need to get a special mention here. They are still among the finest set of players in the country and I know they will be back. They are, as Father Ted referred to the Chinese, ‘a great bunch of lads’ and I wish them all the best with their clubs, a relaxing off season and hopefully a successful inter-county campaign next year.
To my fellow Cork supporters, it was a great old year and though it ended four months sooner than we hoped (and maybe expected) it is still one I will remember fondly. I look forward to meeting them on the road again next year.
This is not quite the end for this year. I will be back after the All-Ireland final to give my top moments of the season, so until then slán and congrats again to Donegal.