Michael Moynihan's Championship conversations...
Tipperary cruised to another 30-points-plus win on Sunday, this time streaking away from Waterford in Semple Stadium. Is it too early in the year to be this good? It was interesting to hear Tipp boss Liam Sheedy cite the miles that some of his players have clocked up in a decade wearing the blue and gold. In that sense the week’s break comes at the right time (not just for them but for all sides) but it also gives everyone time to reflect on a simple question: have Tipperary hit their rich vein of form just a little too early?
The first response is that in the new dispensation you can’t time your run too precisely, and the second is the obvious comparison to be made, of course, with the All-Ireland champions, who stampeded their way to a league title and lost their championship opener. But do Tipperary need a Munster final? Do they need to win one at this stage of the team's life cycle?
In the advertising for Get Shorty a few years ago the tagline ‘attitude plays a part’ was emblazoned across the poster. It certainly played a part in Cork’s win, as the outlook conspicuous by its absence in Páirc Uí Chaoimh was visible everywhere in the Gaelic Grounds. All things being equal - granted, always a tall order - then spirit and hunger and application come into the equation.
These attributes are simultaneously the hardest to measure but the most desperately needed, and when they’re lacking the performance suffers disproportionately. Cork’s turnaround in the seven days between Tipperary and Limerick was remarkable, particularly given the need for a win, the surprises in the team selection, and the opposition in the second game. It also breathes life into the Munster championship, which is a bigger deal than first appears.
Are Limerick fallible? Of course they are. Are they out of All-Ireland contention? Of course they’re not. It’s easy to hold these two positions at the same time once you strip away the hype that’s earned by an All-Ireland win. Limerick cruised to a league title a few weeks ago but index-linking that final to Waterford’s subsequent displays may undercut its value somewhat.
Ironically, then, those two teams now meet in a season-defining game in Waterford in a fortnight. Most managers have an aversion to meeting teams they’ve beaten soon afterwards, as the beaten side have all the motivation in the world. John Kiely, the Limerick manager, will be keenly aware of the potential for a Walsh Park ambush, but the good news for neutrals is that this should be a cracking encounter.
Province of Death sounds like something from Game of Nerds - Thrones, sorry, don’t get hysterical - but the Leinster championship is warming up very nicely indeed. The draw between Wexford and Dublin was a nice twist in that it keeps the season alive for everyone, not to mention the sheer entertainment value involved in producing three goals in the closing stages. I’d like to see a Gaelic football championship game produce that kind of value for money, which brings us nicely to . ..
Interesting Twitter exchange yesterday morning (warning: ‘interesting’ used here in a heavily ironic sense) between Northern football evangelist Dick Clerkin and lofty hurling maven Eddie Brennan. Clerkin opined that a good football game was more entertaining than a good hurling game and Brennan’s riposte (‘What’s seldom is truly wonderful’) sparked a few comments which in no way revealed people’s innate biases.
Taking the Brennan side of the discussion, Sunday’s game between Down and Armagh was entertaining and high-scoring but even taken in conjunction with the previous evening’s Monaghan- Cavan clash, hardly provides a valid sample size. Cast your mind back to the riveting early-summer games in the football championship . . . on the other hand, best not. We’re with Eddie here.
GAA podcast: Dalo was wrong. Emotional Cork. Limerick's Plan B? Tipp back it up. Ref justice
Anthony Daly, Ger Cunningham and TJ Ryan review the weekend's hurling.