All-Ireland SHC final countdown: Murphy recalls skull fracture

Ticket allocations for Galway and Waterford, numbers game, team talk and more

Plenty of hurlers retire with lifelong battle scars and Waterford selector Eoin Murphy offered up a scary reminder of his at the county press event at the Granville Hotel.

In April 2011, then aged 32, Murphy was struck in the head while playing for his club Knockanure: the hospital scan revealed the frightening nature of the fracture, as if a hole had been punched into the right side of his skull.

“I more or less blocked down a fella with my head,” Murphy recalled, with a slight chill but no regret. “I got in a bit early, and I was trying to get out of the way, I took the full force of it. The scan is nice to see – it’s a bit like an Easter egg cracked in at one side. I was a very lucky boy. The helmet saved my life. I still have a little indentation there on the side of my temple. If I ever lose my hair you’ll be able to see it.”

Murphy, the 2006 All Star defender, retired later that year, and Waterford manager Derek McGrath officially added him to the backroom team this summer: no better man to articulate the appreciation of being in the All-Ireland final.


How the tickets are allocated

Galway’s appearance in both the senior final (against Waterford) and the minor final (against Cork) offers them the chance to repeat the feat of the Tipperary hurlers in 2016 and win the senior-minor double in the same year. This should – although not necessarily – see Galway get hold of their greater share of the 82,300 match tickets, which by way of gentle reminder are loosely broken down as follows: the 32 individual county boards each receive around 60,000 tickets; schools and third level colleges get 2,500; season ticket holders are entitled to 5,500 tickets; there are some 10,528 premium and corporate tickets. GAA staff and sub committees get some 557. We the media get just 301.

Numbers game

87: The number of years – combined – since Galway and Waterford last lifted the Liam MacCarthy, Galway’s 29-year wait going back to 1988, and Waterford’s 58-year wait going back to 1959. Galway have lost six finals in the years since; Waterford only two (1963 and 2008).

Team talk

“We referenced it last Monday, when the draw was made, then we just turned all the focus to the play. We felt it might have burdened some teams over the years, concentrating on the whole 58 years thing, but this group have come on in terms of their whole approach, I don’t think they’re fuelled by that any more”. – Waterford manager Derek McGrath speaking after beating Kilkenny in last month’s qualifier for the first time since 1959, the same year Waterford last won the All-Ireland. Just saying.

Mahony and Canning shoot-out

The as-yet-unsanctioned 2017 Golden Hurl Award is still up for grabs going into Sunday's final. Currently leading the chase with his 3-24 (43 points) from five games is Tipperary's Séamus Callanan, but with Waterford's Pauric Mahony and Galway's Joe Canning both in close pursuit, that tally is likely to be topped come teatime on Sunday.

Mahony has scored 0-40 in his five games, third best in the championship, and unless he falls short of his average, should easily surpass Callanan; Canning has scored 0-37 in his four games, seventh best, averaging 9.25 points per game, and any continuation of should also see him past Callanan. It will be close – possibly even tied for that top spot: so why not sanction that Golden Hurl Award?

Galway title win would end losing streak

Sunday marks the first ever meeting of Galway and Waterford in a senior All-Ireland hurling final and the novelty doesn’t end there: it’s the first time since 1996 the final doesn’t feature one of the so-called ‘big three’ – Kilkenny, Cork and Tipperay – and while it does also mark the 11th championship meeting between the counties (the first in the 1938 semi-final), the most recent the 2011 quarter-final), Galway have never actually beaten Waterford in the championship. That novelty may or may not end on Sunday.