Kilkenny’s win over Waterford added to the contrast in the counties’ fortunes at the penultimate stage of the All-Ireland. Since the GAA dropped the strictly knockout format of the championship in 1997, 10 counties have reached the semi-finals.
Obviously Kilkenny lead the way. Having contested 18 of the 19 semi-finals their statistics are a daunting 16-2 whereas Waterford’s 10 matches at this stage include just one win.
It used to be said that former Waterford manager Justin McCarthy had an All-Ireland semi-final jinx, having lost last-four matches in charge of three counties as well as a club but in fairness he is one of four managers (with Gerald McCarthy, Davy Fitzgerald and now Derek McGrath) to have experienced that disappointment.
Fitzgerald broke the trend in 2008 when Waterford beat Tipperary, who on Sunday join Cork in second place with an 11th appearance in the semi-finals and could pull ahead of them with seven wins if successful against Galway.
On the percentages Kilkenny are ahead with an 89 per cent success rate but behind them on 75 per cent (admittedly from just four semi-finals) are Galway.
Kilkenny 16/18 89% Galway* 3/4 75% Offaly 2/3 66% Tipperary* 6/10 64% Cork 6/11 55% Clare 3/7 43% Limerick 1/4 25% Waterford 1/10 10% Dublin 0/2 0% Wexford 0/5 0 %
* Yet to play this year’s semi-final.
On a related matter, Galway have met Tipperary 11 times in championship since returning to hurling's top table on 1975. Tipp are narrowly ahead, 6-5 but in that time, neither county has ever won three successive matches against their neighbours. Tipperary have won the two most recent meetings in 2010 and last year. SM
Monaghan’s no show
For the third year in a row, Monaghan exited the championship in Croke Park without leaving a mark on their opponents. There were fairly plausible excuses in 2013 and 2014 but not this time. The table was set for them this time around, they came to Dublin knowing exactly what it would take to beat Tyrone and with the exception of Conor McManus, they just didn’t show up.
They seemed cowed by the occasion, unable or uninterested in attacking it with the sort of gusto that has carried them to two Ulster titles in three years. They played far too conservatively, keeping too many men far too deep and never pushing up on the Tyrone kick-out. The enduring image of the day was Dick Clerkin in probably his last game in Croke Park, angrily demanding that his teammates push up and help him pressure the ball. But they seemed rooted to the spot.
A lot was made in the build-up of how Monaghan can be an example to smaller counties across the country and, in fairness, nothing that happened on Saturday makes that any less true. But there’s no glory in making it half way up the mountain only to turn back the first time the weather gets a bit unruly.
Tyrone got to Croke Park and attacked their chance of making the last four. Monaghan supporters who left Dublin on Saturday giving out about the behaviour of Mickey Harte's players were wasting their annoyance on the wrong team. MC