There was powerful scenes.
What about the epic between Kilkenny and Tipperary?
That was something special altogether.
Big Brian Cody, boss of the Cats, normally calm in the eye of the storm, provided an index to the passion of the clash. Liam Sheedy of the wounded Tipperary cast is normally more animated at any battle. As the nip-and-tuckery of a tight battle grew hotter as the clock ticked down what did not happen but the two managers converted their sideline patch into a Hell’s Kitchen and got into grips? Mighty stuff. Did not Sheedy push Cody a couple of feet backwards as the TV lenses zoomed in? Eyeball stuff, just as fiery as the action afield. Eoin Kelly’s goal was a TNT charge which pushed the Cats into a gap about the width of the space between the briefly warring managers.
Tipp won a thrilling victory and in the wider context of things a defeat for Kilkenny adds a garnish of relish for the season ahead. They win so much and so often that, like Michael Schumacher in F1 in his heyday, there was a lessening of the excitement. That’s good.
Brian Cody and Sheedy exchanged wry handshakes at the end of the action. You would not expect less of them. Going back to Hollywood events you have to say that Cody does not like to be pushed into The Hurt Locker by Tipperary especially. But he was without Prince Henry and a raft of his regulars and will escape from the locker without delay.
Staying with epics there were filmic references from new Galway manager Joe Kernan following the Tribesmen’s loss to Cork. There was a memorable scene which cost millions when Cecil B De Mille parted the Red Sea for one of his Biblicals. Kernan was colourful after his stars failed to overhaul a shaky Cork side which dominated them for three-quarters of the game but got nervy towards the end. The score that mattered was the thunderbolt goal from big Cork midfielder Pearse O’Neill.
Kernan said it was awful the way his defence split open to allow “the Red Sea to flow through”.
And above in Inniskean in rugged Monaghan, in poet Paddy Kavanagh’s parish, where there are stepping stones over the river, the combative Mickey Harte from Tyrone found that his (depleted) troops were unable to step across the last stepping stone for a victory. Monaghan ground out a win by the narrowest of margins and Harte (on a campaign against film cameras) was in a temper afterwards over the management of injury time seconds. Mickey was in The Hurt Locker too.
It is true that no county on this island has gained more from Hollywood happenings than Mayo. There is a continuing small industry around the locations where the classic The Quiet Man was shot around Cong and, more recently, the region around Leenane where The Field was shot. It is a fact that a lot of the shooting around Cong was hampered by blasting connected with the spread of rural electricifation that summer. So it came to pass on Sunday when Pat Gilroy’s new Dubs came to Mayo to take on the locals.
Not for the first time the Mayo shooting was awful. They wasted more chances than would win any other two games of the weekend and those included spurning at least one open goal that would have made all the difference.
So Mayo took up residence in The Hurt Locker too.
Kildare bring high-flying Donegal down to earth in one of the other interesting clashes, delighting steely Kieran McGeeney who may at last be imposing his will on his squad. And away out in the south-west Derry travel deep into the Kingdom to take on Kerry. They flatter to deceive in the end and Kerry do what they do better than anyone else.
They become nearly as boring in their superiority as Michael Schumacher too.
But the year is young.
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