September Road: Five reasons why this is the best hurling championship in memory
There once were three teams at the top of the hurling tree – but they all fell hard
Were the Waterford management team happy to have beaten Kilkenny in the minor hurling semi-final? Why yes, they were. Quite.
Novelty factor: Remember the pre-tournament
favourites? Last May the bookmakers priced the race for the 2013 Liam MacCarthy Cup as: Kilkenny 4/5, Tipperary 13/5 and Galway 5/1.
If you had suggested none of those three would even reach the All-Ireland semi-final stage, well, you’d have had your hurley confiscated.
And it’s safe to assume that no one at the Division 1B decider between Limerick and Dublin in April thought they were watching the next senior hurling champions of Munster and Leinster.
Atmosphere: The excitement and tension in the stands and Hill 16 before yesterday’s game even began was comparable only to All-Ireland final day. And it a feature this summer – perhaps most notably the atmosphere at Kilkenny v Tipperary at Nowlan Park and the double header at Semple Stadium the following weekend between Wexford and Clare and Kilkenny and Waterford
(both going to extra-time).
Next Sunday, the biggest crowd of the season to date is expected for the clash of neighbours and rivals Limerick and Clare. We’ll make a prediction: It’ll be intense.
First-class hurling: While there’s no doubt Kilkenny were not playing at the same level as previous years, the standard of hurling has been terrific this season.
It’s simply not true (and not fair) to explain away absence of the traditional big guns by pointing to a drop in quality.
The other championships: Amazingly, 2013 is the first year that Cork and Tipperary haven’t claimed at least one of the Munster minor, under-21 or senior hurling titles.
Yesterday, Waterford reached their first All-Ireland minor final since 1992 and next Sunday Limerick – who haven’t claimed the title since 1984 – will take on Galway for the other final spot.
It’s the Year of the
Underdog in all grades.
Weather: Okay, so we can’t do anything about it, but so many of this season’s championship games have been played under a previously unknown yellow circular object in the sky.
SO CLOSE FOR WATERFORD, AND MICHAEL RYAN
One puck of a ball. It’s a familiar story in Waterford – being so close, and yet so far.
Michael Ryan announced yesterday he is stepping down as Waterford senior hurling manager. He led the Déise for two seasons – with mixed results – and has come in for some very harsh criticism from within his own county during his time in charge.
But had Waterford sneaked the qualifier clash with Kilkenny last month (which the Cats won in extra-time), the same critics would be calling for a statue of the Fourmilewater man.
2012: Beat Clare, lost Tipperary, lost Cork
2013: Lost Clare, beat Offaly,
beat Westmeath, drew Kilkenny (lost extra-time).
WINNING IN MONAGHAN
A county senior championship final has been played already. Surely the first this season?
Yesterday, Inniskeen defeated Castleblayney, 0-13 to 1-9, to claim the Monaghan senior hurling title for the second time.
Simon Zebo @SimonZebo
What a half of hurling. pat Horgan best hurler in the country #touchofclass #rebelsallday
Joe Brolly @JoeBrolly1993
Strange game this hurling. Three Cork defenders around him for the goal and no one dragged him down. Amateurs!
Colm O’Neill @crossbar13
Great team performance and hunger shown from Cork today. #onemorestep #allireland
Des Cahill @sportsdes
Just a reminder - they were AMATEUR sportsmen in Croke Park today...!! WARRIORS! #Cork #Dublin #GAA
AGAINST THE ODDS
2013 All-Ireland SHC
2013 All-Ireland SFC