Hurlers pay a big price for giving Cats second chanceOctober 4, 2012 - 7:00am
BACK on a late September evening in the Autumn of 2000, a group of us were leaving the Clonliffe College car-park after Galway had drawn the All-Ireland football final against Kerry.
The same day, Galway had staged quite a remarkable comeback and indeed could have won the match with virtually the last kick of the ball.
Most of us were quite chuffed with the spirit and sheer courage of the Galway comeback, and we bumped into the late Jack Mahon, normally a man to have an optimtistic ‘take’ on all things maroon.
We expressed great hope for the replay, but Jack looked at us in the eye, and said that our chance was gone. “Kerry in football, Kilkenny in hurling . . . you just cannot give them a second chance. That’s just the way it is,” he said.
Sure enough when the replay came around, Kerry took the All-Ireland title, and last Sunday as Galway supporters shook their heads as they walked down the North Circular, to a man, woman and child, they all knew, that our chance to recapture Liam McCarthy came on the Sunday of September 9.
There was no loss of honour in this Galway defeat last Sunday. Right to the end they fought with a refreshing spirit and vigour, but the task of facing Kilkenny three times in championship hurling in the one year — without tasting defeat once — was just a bridge too far.
True, the little breaks didn’t go Galway’s way . . . Cyril Donnellan being blown back after rattling the Kilkenny net . . . the same player being reckless rather than malicious when being correctly sent off minutes later . . . and Joe Canning missing the knots on the edge of David Herity’s net by inches in the 47th minute . . . but even the most ardent fan of the maroon, would have to admit, that last Sunday, Kilkenny were a far superior force.
Brian Cody’s braves won their own puck-outs and Galway’s too; they threatened from all six positions in attack and midfield as well; and when they were hit by first half adversity, they shrugged it aside as if it never happened.
No Galway forward struck a point from play until James McGrath’s watch had ticked into the 71st minute, and although Joe Canning produced his usual medley of scores from frees, 65s and a cut, the scoring threat was too easily identifiable for Kilkenny.
David Burke’s two first half goals did provide a significant diversion, but it was to be a brief interlude, although the feeling was there right through the game that Galway seemed as likely to score goals as points. Even after Burke’s first strike, Kilkenny had the ball slotted over the crossbar as Galway fans watched the goal replay on the big screen.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.