John Allen: Another classic on the cards as great rivals clash

Kilkenny and Tipperary very familiar with the many demands of All-Ireland final day

Brian Cody: has ample experience of all the pressure associated with the biggest day in the hurling calendar. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Brian Cody: has ample experience of all the pressure associated with the biggest day in the hurling calendar. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

 

The All-Ireland final day experience is one any serious hurler wants to encounter at least once.

In terms of hope and expectation the teams and managers are equal up to the time the sliotar is thrown in.

As the teams make their way to begin the parade, the Artane Band waiting for the off, the managers know that their influence from this point until the half-time whistle sounds is fairly insignificant – apart of course from making some match winning change! They know that it’s now in the lap of the players, and to a lesser extent the weather and the match day officials, and maybe a god or two as well.

Half-time can be a welcome break for the oppressed and an unneeded time-out for the oppressor.

The second half begins after the dressing room oath has been re taken. No regrets.

The drama recommences and dreams of a lifetime are realised or quenched in 40 minutes. The board goes up, the amount of added time flashes out in red. The security staff have taken up their end of match positions. Then the final whistle blows and some dreams are shattered and others brought to life in one shrill moment.

Hordes of cameramen descend on the winning manager. The vanquished look for hands to shake. The victors celebrate and engage in a bit of hysteria before heading up the steps of the Hogan Stand. The defeated wait but really crave the sanctuary of the dressing room.

Customary visit

Championes, championes

The manager pays the customary visit to the opponents’ dressing room. The television interviews are done. Brian Carthy might appear at the winners’ door. He wants a few people for his post match championship radio programme. Marty Morrissey arrives to run over the plans for the winners’ banquet.

An hour later and many of the players are in the players’ lounge. There’s some finger food and plenty of drink. The champions are under pressure. They need to go as soon as possible as the RTÉ schedule dictates the next few hours.

A few hours ago the teams were equals and on the main stage but now only one team is at the centre of that stage.

As the last stragglers are pulled from the warmth of the hospitality area the winners’ busses pull out. The rush is on. The Garda outriders, sirens blaring and lights flashing signal the journey of the champions. Rival fans applaud the heroes.

The team hotel is buzzing. If there was an overnight the previous night, the rooms are now reallocated. Wives, girlfriends or partners replace the room-mate of the pre match night.

The match party have to don the official garb. It’s a race against time.

Everybody has to be sitting by nine-ish. Manager and captain are usually first when the live television stream is fed to Donnybrook and the country (a bit of Urbi et Orbi). There’s no rush on the defeated. They’re not centre stage anymore. Not too many cameras. Not much media interest now that the post match interviews are over.

This is a special night for any winning hurler or manager. There might be only one, if you’re lucky. Brian has experienced it before many times. Michael Ryan will hope that it is him on this particular Sunday night.

On the morning after, if the winning manager is answering his phone, there are the requests for interviews from RTÉ radio morning sport and maybe from Newstalk and local radio. Dara Ó Cinnéide might be looking for a cúpla focal for An Saol ó Dheas on Radio na Gaeltachta.

As soon as breakfast is over the print media are back to gauge the morning-after feeling. A clique of freelance photographers want a few shots for the next days’ dailies and posterity.

TV3, UTV and TG4 would also like some footage for their first news bulletins. RTÉ 1 is there to see the bus departing the hotel . The manager and captain are pulled right left and centre. Brian Carthy is back for a few words for the evening sports bulletin.

The losers hotel is a much quieter place. Only a few loyal hacks make an appearance. What a difference a day makes, 24 little hours.

We’ve had a number of finals between these two counties over the past number of years that are correctly categorised as classics and epics. Sunday has the potential to add another chapter. Many of the players are well familiar with the pre- and post-match drill and with the winning and losing experience. The match of course will take on a life of its own.The script has yet to be written.

Rookie defender

Michael FennellyWalter Walsh

‘Bubbles has to start.’ ‘ Maybe Bubbles should be held in reserve , a kind of trump card.’ ‘Tipp, possibly, have more momentum.’ ‘ Tipp simply have to win.’ ‘Bonner Maher makes the forward line tick.’ ‘Intensity is everything .’

Take your pick .There isn’t much between these teams .

It will be a 24 hours to remember for all concerned and a 24 hours to savour for one team (barring a draw, as in 2014 ).

The team that wants it most and converts that desire to numbers on the scoreboard will, of course, win .

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