All-Ireland game-day twists and turns

All-Ireland game-day twists and turns

A stark vignette around half 11, just short of Naas on the N7. A bus full of Kilkenny supporters had pulled in for ‘relief’ on the left. The bus carrying the Kilkenny team was tracking a Garda escort past backed-up traffic up the right lane.

Naturally, the one bad egg in any group was busy photographing his pals going about their business. And as the team edged past they were treated to a selection of bare arses poking out from beneath the black and amber.

It was surely worse than anything Pat Shortt did to the stripes in his ‘controversial’ pre-match video that rocked Noreside.

In truth, the journalist in the car was preoccupied looking in the windows of the bus to his right, as rumour and counter-rumoured swirled all morning as to whether Adrian Mullen was on board.

We had to wait until half three to know for certain Mullen was playing but what frame of mind could the lad be in?

***********

Forget all that. The Kilkenny bus turned up aright. But where were Tipp?

As rain and hail drenched the first half, it wasn’t an afternoon for ‘playing through the lines’

Was this one final day out for the direct approach, for John Bull and the last remnants of British culture etc etc?

Kilkenny prospered far better as passes slipped off the stick, Tipp accumulated spillages and TJ Reid accumulated frees.

There was one Richie Hogan miss that felt more of a let-off than it should, so early. But Padraic Maher had been foiled bursting out and Kilkenny lungs were ready to swell.

Ii dropped wide, the sun came out, and like Kate Bush maybe Tipp knew something good was going to happen. Niall O’Meara gave Conor Fogarty twisted blood and Tipp were level in a game they had started without them.

****

After a week dominated by who would handle the football final, all of a sudden James Owens held the hurling final in his hands.

All previous experience suggested some kind of agreement would be reached. Slippery surface. Not that kind of player. Mitigation piled up.

But after mulling over testimony from his linesman Johnny Murphy, Owens acted in the only way the rules allowed.

In the week we had heard much about how this would be Cody’s greatest achievement. If he played off three cushions to get out of this snooker, it truly would be.

***

But Cody soon needed snookers himself. The unfortunate Mullen departed. Callanan slid in to complete his goal-a-game dream summer. Bubbles swung one over, before Tipp’s marquee duo combined for the obligatory trademark goal ‘with Eamon O'Shea’s stamp all over it'.

At the other end, Ronan Maher and Seamus Kennedy defied everything and Barry Heffernan had long forgotten those early slips.

And long before the end, we had that rarest of beasts between these two: a final act without true drama.

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