Dublin hurlers produce the first draft
A genuinely historic win over Killkenny sets the scene for further landmarks
Kilkenny manager Brian Cody (right) congratulates manager Anthony Daly after Saturday’s historic victory for the Dublin hurlers in Portlaoise. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
The phrase, “journalism is the first rough-draft of history” has predictable appeal for reporters. Providing building blocks for the knowledge and understanding of future generations leaves open possibilities. There may be unidentified significance in what otherwise looks like quotidian grind.
The hope would be some forgotten opinion could be dusted down in decades to come and re-published as an important insight rather than hastily composed tendentiousness – the passage beginning ‘Moran, however, observes ...’ might be accompanied by the forceful jabbing of some historian’s index finger rather than the quizzical arching of his eyebrows.
In fact the phrase probably more accurately reads in a way that doesn’t really dignify journalism as a spotter of trends but more as a narrative of events that others will elevate – or not – into “history” in some unspecified future.
Hype and Dublin – depending on your point of view – either don’t sit well together or are comfortable bedfellows. But what happened at the weekend neatly separates history from hype. Dublin’s footballers steam-rolled Kildare and extended the range of their 16-point beatings from the top of Division Two to the upper reaches of Division One. So far, Jim Gavin’s team has done what has been necessary.
Dublin hurling, however, made genuine history last Saturday. In four days the team has a chance of winning a first provincial title in 52 years but already the milestone of beating Kilkenny has been marked.
Getting the better of Kilkenny won’t always be an end in itself but for Anthony Daly’s team, it is a watershed moment.
Up until this year, under Brian Cody, Kilkenny had lost just seven matches in 14 championships and won nine All-Irelands and 12 Leinster titles. In that period they faced Dublin seven times in the summer. The six-point defeat in the 2009 Leinster final was – by about a light year – the closest the challengers ever got.
Kilkenny’s seven championship wins (including the 2004 qualifiers) were by an average of more than 15 points per match – and includes the past two seasons when Dublin were seen as a threat.
So, even the draw of 10 days ago was a paradigm shift. Kilkenny might have been injury-hit and out of sorts but the mental and emotional energy required to invert that sort of power relationship is enormous.
In an interview with this newspaper yesterday Michael O’Grady – the former Dublin manager and chair of the seminal Hurling Review Group 12 years ago – passionately made the argument that the hard work at ground level, which had laid the necessary foundations of any sustainable improvement in the competitive profile, was the real touchstone.