Galway don’t give an inchSeptember 14, 2012 - 7:00am
REALLY this game of hurling, will in future, have to come with a health warning attached. Hearts were lifted, hearts were broken and hearts nearly stopped a thousand times, as Galway and Kilkenny battled with might and main to put their name on the Liam McCarthy Cup for the 2012 season.
It was a day of dreams for Galway and yet with over two minutes of injury time having elapsed on Barry Kelly’s watch as Kilkenny led by a single score, the spectre of a nightmare one point defeat loomed large for Anthony Cunningham’s charges.
Even when Davy Glennon tried to burst through a Kilkenny tackle and the referee signalled for a Galway free, the doubts were still there.
Shortly before that, Joe Canning had missed the target from a placed ball just outside the 45, and 82,000 people – as well as most of the entire population of Ireland – held their breaths, before the Portumna man guided the sliotar over David Herity’s crossbar.
It would have been nothing short of savage cruelty had Canning not landed the levelling point and what pressure rested on his broad shoulders when he crouched over that final free, with Brian Cody dancing a jig of protest on the line, as the Kilkenny supremo could see the fingers of Eoin Larkin touching the McCarthy Cup, and then it was snatched away, for another three weeks at least.
It was a first draw in an All-Ireland final since 1959 when Kilkenny (5-5) and Waterford (1-17) ended all square on that September 6, Sunday. For those into little historical pointers (and we all know they don’t really count for much), Kilkenny lost the replay on a 3-12 to 1-10 scoreline.
Last Sunday in Croke Park was a magnificent occasion. The day started with a cracking minor draw between Tipperary and Dublin; the pageant to mark the 2013 Gathering (the return of Irish emigrants from all parts of the globe) was spectacular, and there was a real Galway feel to the day when the All-Ireland winning teams of 1987 and ’88 were honoured.
It was clear from the intensity of the cheers greeting those heroes of a quarter century back that Galway enjoyed a massive support advantage in Croke Park. All received resounding receptions, most notably Joe Cooney, although Sylvie Linnane still lies at the spiritual heart of hurling in Galway . . . the roof was lifted when he took his bow.
But these lads, including Sylvie, Keady, McInerney, Cooney and Lynskey, don’t want to be remembered as the last Galway team to win an All-Ireland title. Before they left the arena, some of them leapt like giddy colts over the green timber form placed on the pitch for the ceremonial picture, and then went to the crowd on The Hill, imploring them to roar on their new heroes to glory. Before 3 o clock, there was a real good Galway feeling to the day . . . emotions were running high.
Over the course of the first 35 minutes, the crop of 2012 was not found wanting. Fergal Moore seemed to be on rocket power as he mopped up loose ball across the Galway defence; Andy Smyth fired over an early point but the big salvo came in the 9th minute when great work by James Regan set up Joe Canning for a spectacular goal.
For more, read this week's Galway City Tribune.