Those were the sage words of an old-timer as he left O’Connell Park in Tullamore yesterday after witnessing an enthralling All-Ireland MHC final replay.
The throw-in was delayed for 15 minutes due to crowd congestion but the teams again produced another epic encounter before Galway held off a late Kilkenny rally to take the Irish Press Cup for the first time in four years.
Galway won because they displayed the greater desire, had a couple of outstanding players and a first-class free-taker in Kerril Wade, who finished the match with seven points, six of them from frees.
The real pity was there had to be a loser and while Galway just about deserved their victory, Kilkenny contributed magnificently to a truly memorable match.
Once again Galway owed much to their outstanding defence, in which full-back Gerard Mahon, centre-back and captain John Lee and wing-back John Hughes were absolutely superb.
Their selectors pulled a masterstroke by moving Keith Kilkenny from defence to attack and he proceeded to play the proverbial blinder, ably assisted by Wade, Joe Canning, who cut two line balls over the bar, and Kevin Hynes.
Kilkenny too had their heroes. Kieran Joyce was a colossus at full-back, Patrick Hogan starred at midfield, while Maurice Nolan, Eoin Guinan and Richard Hogan posed endless problems in attack.
Galway opted to play into the strong wind in the first-half and drew first blood with a Joe Canning point after 10 seconds. Mathew Ruth levelled it 20 seconds later and in a lively opening, the sides were level again at 0-2 apiece before Canning cut a line ball over the bar from 40 metres out for a great lead point for the westerners.
It was a short-lived advantage however as Kilkenny struck back strongly with a peach of a goal from Eoin Guinan who first-timed Richard Hogan’s superb line ball cut to the net.
All that happened in the opening five minutes and the huge crowd settled in for a rousing contest, and they weren’t disappointed. The game was played at a furious pace, but after the early flurry of scores, both defences took control and there weren’t as many chances.
Play ebbed and flowed for the remainder of the half and at the end of 20 minutes of outstanding hurling, Kilkenny led by three points.
Incessant Galway pressure earned them a goal, but it was disallowed for a square infringement. However, they finished the half with three unanswered points to go in at the break on level terms, 0-9 to 1-6.
Galway resumed with great passion and added three points without reply, two by Wade, to put some daylight between the sides.
Kilkenny weren’t quite ready to surrender their crown, however, and they pegged Galway back with a brace of points to leave the minimum between them at the three quarter stage.
However, Galway had the scent of victory and, roared on by their huge following, they stretched their lead to four points with 10 minutes to go.
And what an action-packed 10 minutes. Kilkenny threw everything at Galway in those closing stages and added three points to leave the minimum between the sides for the third time.
However, the Cats wasted two chances to at least send the game into extra-time and Galway were grateful for the final whistle, which set in train incredible scenes of elation.
: Galway: K. Wade 0-7 (0-6 frees); J. Canning 0-4 (0-3 frees); F. Coone, K. Hynes 0-2 each; K. Kilkenny 0-1. Kilkenny: E. Guinan 1-1; M. Nolan 0-4 (0-3 frees); P. Hogan 0-3 (0-2 frees, 0-1 65); M. Ruth, R. Hogan, E. O'Donoghue, N. Prendergast 0-1 each.
: M. Herlihy; P. Loughnane, G. Mahon, C. O'Donovan; M. Ryan, J. Lee, J. Hughes; A. Carey, D. Kennedy; K. Kilkenny, K. Hynes, F. Coone; K. Wade, J. Canning, B. Hanley. Sub. D. White for Ryan.
: L. Tierney; J. Maher, K. Joyce, P. Cahill; N. Prendergast, R. Maher, S. Prendergast; P. Hartley, P. Hogan; G. Nolan, M. Nolan, N. Kenny; R. Hogan, E. Guinan, M. Ruth. Sub. E. O'Donoghue for Kenny.
: B. Gavin (Offaly).