Kilkenny have this racket all tied up
TV VIEW:The Cats are like the Martina Navratilova of hurling, brilliant but too many of their games finish as no contests, writes MARY HANNIGAN
COME FULL-TIME yesterday, Ger Loughnane shared with us a premonition he’d had a decade and a bit ago, one that he revealed wasn’t half as harrowing as what turned out to be.
“I was thinking back to the autumn of 1998 when I heard that Brian Cody was appointed manager of Kilkenny,” he reminisced. “The one comment I had was ‘we’re all in trouble now’ . . . but I didn’t realise we were in for this kind of trouble.”
Indeed, just the nine All-Ireland titles later. That’s a whole heap of trouble for those non-Kilkenny-ites hoping to pick up more than a sporadic Liam MacCarthy in that time.
Between 1994 and 1999, for example, Cork, Offaly, Clare and Wexford, you might recall, took their turns, but it’s largely been black and amber avarice ever since, with just the odd interruption.
“You’d be hoping now that maybe he would take time out,” said Corkonian Tomás Mulcahy of the Cody man, “maybe to be cutting the lawn, or take up a bit of golf, or train the Kilkenny footballers for a change, or something like that. This is never-ending stuff.”
The panel had, to a man, foreseen a Kilkenny triumph, but they all reckoned it’d be a hell-for-leather far-too-close-to-call affair, all of them enthused about the replay ahead, despite the fact they’d assumed they’d be sipping cocktails on a Caribbean beach by now after a long and rarely hot summer.
“A bonus payment in September,” Michael Lyster consoled them, so that perked them up, Lyster going on to say hello to a bunch of Galway people in Australia who’d come home for the first final, but had to return under down before anyone got their paws on Liam. It was like Larry Gogan doing requests.
Team news. James Skehill was in goal for Galway, despite dislocating his shoulder earlier in the week, Ger not convinced he’d be fit for the occasion, later suggesting you’d want to be “Lazarus” to recover in time from a setback of that nature.
And Walter Walsh making his championship debut for Kilkenny in, like, an All-Ireland final? Hmm. Way too much to ask of a young fella, surely? A sparkling 1-3 later? Ah, go on then.
“I’d say the hair dryer has been going in Kilkenny the last three weeks,” said Tomás, suggesting Cody had Fergusonised his men since the drawn game, but out on the pitch Cyril Farrell, chatting with Darragh Moloney, was confident enough that Galway would blow Kilkenny and their hair-dos in to kingdom come.