I see that football is not the only matter that divides the good people of Cork and Kerry.

The recent Dáil spat between Taoiseach Micheál Martin and the Kilgarvan Debating Society’s deputy leader, Danny Healy-Rae TD, was like listening to the on-field sledging that passes for banter in a Junior B championship match.

The exchange could have been dismissed as amusing, were not the argument at its core so serious.

Deputy Healy-Rae accused the Taoiseach of being in favour of a reduction in the national herd.

He said quotes from the Taoiseach to that effect were carried in the agricultural press.

This assertion was roundly denied by the Taoiseach, who demanded that his Munster neighbour produce the exact quote, and the source.

Since the offending quotes have not materialised, the matter is likely to slide into obscurity. However, the episode is significant in that it highlights the sensitivity of the Government – and maybe Fianna Fáil in particular – to the suggestion that herd cuts might be needed to meet agriculture’s climate change targets.

Did dear old Danny Boy hit a nerve, The Dealer wonders?