“Lads”, he said, “How can you possibly eat at a time like this?” It was half-time in Croke Park between Kilkenny and Galway and Jimmy and myself were tucking into our home-made, beef sandwiches. “Because” I told our fellow-Kilkenny man, “We’re going to need all the sustenance we can get to roar on our team in the second half of this All Ireland Hurling Final and besides we’re hungry”.
And boy did we need those sandwiches. Because for sure things were looking glum – glum? - they were looking glummer than glum at half time in Croke Park and I wouldn’t blame our man for losing his appetite. Indeed as James and myself demolished our sambos and sated our appetites we wondered, as I’m sure did a lot of Kilkenny people, where the Kilkenny team’s appetite had gone? What had become of last year’s savage hunger against Tipp because for sure Galway looked hungrier and meaner and leaner. In fact they looked ravenous and capable of devouring our ‘boys’ whole and entire. As they did in certain parts of the field of play.
Yeah that first half was a tame affair, from a Kilkenny point of view, and about as tasty as ten-day old trifle; wheras we were anticipating a mouth-watering soufflé of hurling skill and style, the particular soufflé dished up in the first thirty five minutes of this encounter with the Tribesmen was as flat as the proverbial pancake. Flatter even. If anything it was Galway who were dishing up the mouth-watering and jaw-dropping hurling giving us, and Kilkenny‘s management team, lashings of food for thought.
There were a lot of puzzled and confused Kilkenny faces in Croke Park at five past four last Sunday. A lot of folks, including myself, were thinking: one roasting from Galway was unfortunate but two would be downright careless (to quote one Oscar Fingal O’Flaherty Wilde)
And when our sandwiches were gone (when they’re gone, they’re gone, to quote one Harvey Norman) we tucked into the sweets, yummy butterscotch ones the more of which you eat, the more you want to eat. To a neutral observer (if there was such a species in Croke Park Sunday last – and there wasn’t) it looked as if Jimmy and myself were having ourselves a merry little picnic. Au contraire, dear readers, au contraire. We needed every crumb of bread, every scrap of meat, every sweet to fortify us, to sustain us, to keep our sugar levels up and stop us from succumbing to the high-octane suspense and, of course, to stave off cardiac-arrest.
Oh, and to shield us from that god-awful, thunderous roar of: GAL-WAY, GAL-WAY that resounded around Croke Park every ten minutes. And there was no use in the Kilkenny crowd responding with: GO-AWAY, GO-AWAY as it just sounded like GAL-WAY, GAL-WAY and simply added to the decibel level of the Galway support.
But thanks be to God and His Blessed Mother our boys eventually rediscovered their appetite for the game (whetted, no doubt, by some serious grilling at half-time) and dished up the kind of hurling we have come to expect on an All Ireland hurling final menu. Henry’s penalty would have been the icing on the cake (had he goaled) for Kilkenny as would Joe’s two frees (had he not missed) for Galway, so in the end both teams got their just desserts. I guess.
Henry’s hunger for a historic 9th All Ireland hurling medal and Joe’s hunger for a first one would not be sated this Sunday and would have to wait for another day. The 30th September, as it happens, when hopefully we will be served up a veritable feast of hurling from these two mighty teams and when Jimmy and myself will enjoy another batch of beef sandwiches.
The Galway girl
And then there was the very good-looking woman in The Auld Triangle pub where we all milled around in mini-circles, nursing our pre-match pints and watching the All Ireland minor final between the Premier County and the Dubs. She had a Tipp wrist band on one hand and a Galway wrist band on the other. “I thinks she’s a bit confused”, a Kilkenny supporter says to us and boldly confronts her: “Who are you shouting for, love, Galway or Tipp?” “I’m a Galway girl”, she beams, proud of her county and no one begrudged her that. “And what’s with the Tipp colours?”, our man enquires. “Oh”, she says, “Anyone but Kilkenny”. And in an instant that good-looking Tipp woman morphed into a right ugly rip.
P.S. By the way – what happens if there’s a draw on the 30th September? Extra time? Penalties? Oh, oh, don’t think I have the appetite for that