What a day?
When referee, Barry Kelly blew the final whistle in Croke Park – where else would he have blown it I ask myself? - a torrent of thoughts flashed into the inner sanctum of the mind, writes Barrie Henriques.
“Holy Mother of the Divine Saviour (not in such reverential vocabs) the doc was spot on.”
I remembered the banner headline used atop the interview with Aut Even’s Dr Tom Murray, a proud Galway man, in the All-Ireland special last week – and what an excellent publication that was.
His final comment ran: “my heart says Galway, and my head says Galway after a replay.” I mused, why didn’t I listen to the Galway born medical consultant ?
Bookies were offering 12/1 about a draw. Tsk!
Other thoughts, many emotional, came flooding in.
Three words came flashing in and out in brilliant neon- tickets, tickets, tickets.
What happens to the local championships?
Pruning the roses
Will the South junior championship continue apace?
I wonder how Paddy Buggy is feeling in Maryville now?
And now when I should be planning the pruning of roses, the extraction of the tomato plants from the glasshouse, the autumnal shaping of trees, I’ll be heading back to Baile Atha Cliath for an All-Ireland hurling final.
Back to the match past.
What a strange encounter. Not only was it a game of two halves, but it most certainly was a game of two one half teams. Kilkenny were ripped apart in the first half, but how they delivered in the second, or at least some of them.
Some of the stellar Kilkenny players were less than conspicuous.
Where did Joe Canning hide for the duration of the second half? Expectation was that the Leinster final tactics would not be replicated on Sunday. That would be so stupid, or would it?
They worked once, so why not? If its not broken, don’t fix it.
They most certainly were dusted down, and re-launched. How the game roared for the injured Michael Rice? He would have made something of the midfield confusion.
How the team roared for change?
In the cold light of 24 hours later, two plays will linger long when most other elements have been confined to DVD for future reference.
At 57.42 minutes on the clock, the Herculean Henry Shefflin - they threw away the mould that made him - won a superb ball around the 40-metre line. Tony Og Regan gave him plenty of hassle. David Collins added to the discomfort, but the Ballyhale marvel broke the retaining chains, and stormed towards the Galway goal.
Colin Fennelly was travelling on the outside lane to his right. In true team ethics, Henry, in his judgement to make absolutely sure, passed to Fennelly. On the run, young Fennelly shot to James Skehill’s right. The save was made, and a free resulted.
The free was fired over, and Henry had just wiped out the value of the resurgent Galway goal of three minutes earlier, scored by Niall Burke.
The purest value of the man has never, ever been underscored better than in Sunday’s final.
As Paddy Buggy would say elsewhere “he carried Kilkenny on his back all day. He was my man of the match”. Nowhere was that more evident than in the white-hot lava heat that was Croke Park.
Even when Galway again struck the front inside the final furlong, Shefflin again soared, grabbed and nullified the value of Joe Canning’s second successive lead free in the 64th minute.
Henry Shefflin was roarin’ for road.
His passion was omni-present. His encouragement was audible even over the frenzied baying of over 80,000 partisans from Galway, Kilkenny and God knows where. He looked like a man who was on a very personal mission. Then again, he likes winning, and he has eight gold medals as proof of his brilliance.
Every element of his being was laid bare in his attempts to get himself and his team into the historical zone.
Nearing the 68 minute mark he arrowed Kilkenny into the lead - 0-19 to 2-12 - and Liam looked destined for a prolonged stay by the Nore.
The hearts of people yards away were thumping like the base drum in a Philharmonic Orchestra at the end of a particular cadenza. And then there was the superb Joe Canning free that brings us all back again in three weeks time.
Let the tomatoes collapse of their own accord. The roses, and trees can follow suit, and the South junior championship?
Beig lá eile ann.