Championship serves up Confucius, climate change, broccoli and Easter eggs

Challenge for most managers in coming weeks will be to turn water into wine and ... perhaps walk on water

It is, as we know, the hope that kills you, but at least until this year it could be kept on life support until July-ish at least, now it could be laid to rest before the end of May, leaving half a summer for the bulk of our counties to twiddle their thumbs and think on what might have been.

But look, we are where we are, the championship is up and running, under April showers and a mountain of chocolate, with the hurling and boys’ football due to be done and dusted with a whole week in July to spare. There are some new normals we’ll never get used to.

The challenge for most managers, of course, is to turn water into wine in the coming weeks, although Shane McGrath had a different take on the required conversion when he was on RTÉ Radio duty for Saturday’s clash of Wexford and Galway.

When Lee Chin did his thing and completed the Yellow Bellies’ resurrection, having trailed by four points as the clock passed 70 minutes, McGrath declared: “The broccoli has turned into an Easter egg at last lads!”


Even Heston Blumenthal, you'd guess, would struggle to turn broccoli into an Easter egg, but Wexford pulled it off, leaving Sky's Gráinne McElwain with the task of lifting JJ Delaney, Ollie Canning and Jamesie O'Connor's jaws off the floor so they could analyse what they had just witnessed.

The key moment, they agreed, was the referee opting to punish Conor Cooney for taking too long with his free in the dying moments of the game, the resulting throw-in ending up with Chin narrowing Galway's lead to a point.

Come Sunday, Joanne Cantwell asked her panel of Shane Dowling, Anthony Daly and Donal Óg Cusack – "our three Easter bunnies", as she described them – to discuss the matter, Anthony and Donal rabbiting on about it, but Shane succinctly summing up the laws on time wasting: "I think the rule is there is no rule." Sorted.

Not that Donal Óg was too occupied with events in Wexford, his focus solely on the meeting of Cork and Limerick in Páirc Uí Ed Sheeran.

“With climate change, populism and war in Europe everybody is delighted to have the big hurling games as a distraction,” he said, before urging the players not to get involved in dirty carry-on.

“There’s a philosopher known as Confucius who said if you’re going after revenge you might as well dig two graves, right?” Shane and Anto nodded, but only in a “he’s off again” kind of way.

Limerick being Limerick, Donal Óg wasn't ginormously optimistic, but had a small bit of hope in his heart, much of it dependent on Cork starting well. And then 16.8 seconds into the game Shane Kingston scored a goal, which probably had Donal Óg turning to Shane and Anto, with last August's All-Ireland final in mind and saying: "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall!"

After that? Well, a bit like that Cian Lynch point, Cork were brought to their knees, Limerick prevailing by just the 11 points.

Shane had wondered pre-match if, having won two All-Irelands on the bounce, Limerick’s “stomachs were full”. Come full-time he noted that 2-10 of their 2-16 from play came from turnovers, so he concluded that they weren’t just still hungry, they were ravenous.

Donal Óg, meanwhile, had the look of a man who had just seen an Easter egg turned into broccoli, Cork’s defence in particular leaving him teetering on the edge of despair, his insinuation being that it was as watertight as a sieve.

“The amount of time Gearóid Hegarty had on the ball, he could nearly polish it before he left it into the rest of the team,” he sighed.

His mood contrasted sharply with that of Anto. Limerick and Waterford were top of their table, Cork and Tipperary occupied the bottom two slots, with Clare, yet to play, sandwiched in between. “We’re sitting nicely in third, we’ll take that,” he beamed.

Where else would you get Confucius, climate change, broccoli and Easter eggs all rolled into one? The Championship is indeed up and running.

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times