Cats run is deserving of absolute respect

Liam Ryan (Clara) gets away from the challenge of Patrick Nolan (St Martin's) during the senior hurling championship semi-final in Nowlan Park.
Begrudgery and jealousy are part of the human psyche and are sadly often experienced in many walks of life.

Begrudgery and jealousy are part of the human psyche and are sadly often experienced in many walks of life.

That can be particularly evident in the sporting arena where high achievers often incur the wrath of others. On Sunday week it was Kilkenny’s turn to read a tirade of insulting comments about the county’s hurling achievements.

For much of the past 15 years or so the championship had an inevitable look about it. Tipperary, Cork and especially Kilkenny dominated. Clare (twice) and Wexford knocked that trio on three occasions.

I know of no GAA supporter, including from Kilkenny, who did not applaud the achievements of Clare and Wexford in the mid-nineties. The successes suggested the dawning of a new era.

Sadly that was not the case. The top trio quickly got back to winning ways. It is easy, therefore, to see why the emergence of Clare some weeks ago was so positively received.

In all my GAA involvement I never met or spoke to the writer. He called his article an opinion piece. Like many, I enjoy reading the views of others, even if they differ from my own.

This, though, was more than an opinion piece. The writer attempted to justify his article, but it will have done little to appease irate Kilkenny fans. It was disrespectful and the Kilkenny team and supporters.

Clare won an All-Ireland title for the first time in a decade. They are the darlings of the masses according to the article. Clare are worthy and brilliant champions. They could match and even better the successes of their county men in the mid-nineties.

The author has a short memory. Despite the great achievements of Ger Loughnane’s side they too had many detractors within a relatively short period. Even the great Kerry and Dublin sides of decades ago had to constantly listen to how they were ruining Gaelic football.

For a team that enjoyed such phenomenal success, Kilkenny had huge support nationally. That was best illustrated by the throngs turning up in Nowlan Park for training.

‘An introverted team that took the cup back to an introverted county!’ That is quite a mouthful. It may well be the most disrespectful comments ever made about the county. It has been challenged by many ex-players. Rightly so because there is no basis for such a scurrilous remark.

Long before Kilkenny became the dominant team of recent times its players and coaches were spreading the hurling gospel to all parts. The hurlers today continue the tradition. I bet many from this year’s squad will travel Ireland this winter presenting awards at under-age function.

The McCarthy Cup travelled the country and was often accompanied by players as well as its chief custodian Denis ‘Rackard’ Cody. I even took the famous trophy up North myself for a fund-raiser following the sad death of a young boy. Tyrone four years ago.

Numerous counties have come to Kilkenny to study the coaching model. And that included many so called football counties. It also included officials from Clare!

The author is correct in his assessment that this year’s All-Ireland final and many of those involving Kilkenny were very different games. Kilkenny had players of a specific stature who maximised their physicality to the benefit of the team. They could hurl also, and move at pace!

This year’s final had less physicality but lots of open play and breath-taking skill (at pace) which delighted. Brian Cody and Davy Fitzgerald maximised the talent at their disposal. That is why both are successful All-Ireland managers.

The author finishes his piece by mentioning ‘the unbridled spirit of the county in full bloom’ following Clare’s success. Every time Kilkenny captured the McCarthy Cup and the famous trophy crossed the county boundary we rose in unison to acclaim a great achievement.

What is different about what Kilkenny has been doing for years and what Clare is now doing when celebrating a great achievement? Nothing is the truthful and reasonable answer!