9 July 2009 Edition
More than a game BY MATT TREACY
To dream the possible dream
THERE was an amusing incident in a certain hostelry after last Sunday’s Leinster final when one Kilkenny chap suggested that maybe the Cats had been kind towards Dublin and that, had they wished, they could have beaten them by far more than six points. To which someone responded, “Well, you had better enjoy this one because you won’t beat us again.” Cue general amusement all round.
It was possibly not meant as a serious comment but it does accurately reflect the ambition of the current Dublin team and its management. Anthony Daly was part of a generation of Clare hurling folk who ended the long dark days of being Munster’s “whipping boys”, as he so eloquently put it after they beat their mortal foes from Tipp in the 1997 Munster final.
I was watching the Laochra Gael documentary about Daly again recently and if there’s any person who can bring Dublin hurling to the same heights it is surely himself. As the Americans would say, the guy is a winner and his disappointment, even after Dublin lost a game that almost nobody gave them a chance of winning, was palpable. His philosophy is that you get one chance at big things in life so you had better take them.
Dublin did their utmost to take down the mighty Cats on Sunday and despite a nervous enough first half they were at least in the game until the final minutes although Kilkenny were never behind in the match and never really looked like losing. For Dublin there will be three weeks to wait for the All-Ireland quarter-final against one of the teams to emerge from the qualifiers and a chance to reach an All-Ireland semi-final for the first time since 1961. At last that can now be more than an impossible dream.
THIS Sunday sees the Munster final between Tipperary and Waterford with the former expected to avenge their defeat in last year’s semi-final. Waterford have come in slightly under the radar this year with many believing that they could not recover from last year’s hammering by Kilkenny in the final. However, under Anthony Daly’s old team mate, Davy Fitz, they have done just that and they will be around for a few weeks longer.
Tipp have been impressive in parts but have also earned the unenviable reputation of a team that freezes on the big day and fades at vital periods of matches, as they did against Cork and Clare, although they did win, which is the most important thing! They are 4/9 favourites to win on Sunday but I for one remain to be convinced and think that this Waterford side might have another kick in them.
SATURDAY sees two phase two matches between Wexford and Limerick, and Clare and Galway with the winners to meet Laois and Cork respectively.
Home advantage might see Wexford advance one step nearer a very possible quarter-final with Dublin, while Galway you would imagine should be too strong for Clare although it would be foolish to write off Mike McNamara’s team after their strong showing against Tipperary and the fact that the match is in Ennis.
Monaghan and Derry’s rematch is to be televised live although what any of us did to deserve that I am not sure. (Only jesting, my dear Farney and Derry friends.)
Games involving Monaghan have a curious sort of attraction actually. Possibly for the same reasons as people watch muggings and crocodiles pulling young antelopes into rivers on YouTube. Their approach has, however, been successful and they cut their cloth to suit their measure, as they will again have to do in the continued absence of Tommy Freeman.
There were rumours earlier in the week that Paddy Bradley had left the Derry panel but rumours it would seem is all that they were. He remains key to Derry’s chances and will be well policed, to say the least.
It will be close and probably pretty dour. Monaghan to advance.
OTHER interesting qualifiers are Meath and Westmeath, Wicklow and Cavan and Longford and Kerry. Longford gave Kerry a bit of a game a few years ago and might have beaten Dublin but this is probably now beyond them.
Wicklow, following what was apparently an epic victory over Fermanagh, might well be about to emulate the latter in 2004 in being the surprise team of the qualifiers. Cavan were poor against Antrim and could be vulnerable to defeat in Aughrim.
Dublin and Kildare meet in a final for the first time since 2002 in a revival of what was once an intense and not altogether healthy rivalry. Dublin and Meath kind of respected one another but there was nothing nice about this one and both sides derived huge enjoyment from beating the other. That at least will not have changed and Croke Park full of blue and white is one of the more aesthetically pleasing sights of the GAA.
Fellas like Keith Barr probably used to consider Kildare to be sort of cissies but McGeeny doesn’t do cissies and this match could have all the ingredients of an old-fashioned toe-to-toe Donnybrook. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kildare won but I wouldn’t be surprised if Dublin beat them comfortably. In other words, I haven’t a clue what might happen.