Presented with the task of ‘watching’ how Twitter reacts to an All-Ireland hurling final, I was saved the inconvenience of what appeared to be apocalyptic weather (“the floodlights are on!”), traffic delays (“Hearing of huge delays on M8 joining up with M7”) and a fairly poor first half.
I wasn’t even too bothered about not having access to TV coverage here in New York, reading countless complaints about TV3’s minor coverage not having Irish commentary.
Something which was countered by beleaguered presenter Matt Cooper (@cooper_m): “As bearla ar tv3 agus as gaeilge ar 3e.”
Even the radio coverage lacked that crucial element which traditionally fills every emigré with cheesy sentimentality: @DepecheMoby offered Des Cahill (@SportsDes) an incentive: “If RTE had a Pay Per Listen for Micheal O Muircheartaigh today Id gladly pay 20 Euro’s.”
As if all that wasn’t bad enough, a one-sided opening 20 minutes and a generally poor first half threatened to cure a bout of homesickness that had dominated my first morning without being home for an All-Ireland final in 10 years.
Unsurprisingly, pre-game injury rumours fly just as fast on the social network as they would around the Burlington or The Big Tree on Dorset Street.
@Smytheo: What’s the word on corbett being injured?
@JohnOLoughlin: Michael Fennelly out??
@JamesDoorley: Hearing rumours here outside stand that Michael Cahill is out of team big loss if true?
The real action was ushered in by a typically poetic tweet from Examiner laureate Michael Moynihan (@MikeMoynihanEx): “This is it, right now. As Ger Loughnane said, this is what your fathers and grandfathers told you about.”
But then hurling’s return to business as usual was greeted with almost universal dismay, @ItsRyanTime summing it up best: “Two things people hate about Irish summer — Kilkenny and wasps.”
It wasn’t all negative. Among the many tweeters to lavish praise on Tommy Walsh during that opening spell of domination was Westmeath footballer @DessieDolan: “Tommy walsh for president!!! Hurling best game on earth”.
Opinion flipped quickly though with his accidental slap of Brian Gavin’s nose causing Twitter to really light up for the first time all afternoon.
It was a moment primed for satire but any chance of wit had gone the way of Lar Corbett — with some notable exceptions.
@eoinbutler: “Elderly English couple here are loving this. ‘They’ve hit the ref, they’ve hit the ref... what a sport!’”
@ccsashman: “It will b a long time before an offaly man gets a belt in an all ireland again”
The Michael Fennelly goal got Twitter cranked up again minutes later but there was nothing yet to suggest that I was missing out on anything.
@DayvyG: “It’s looking bleak for Tipp ... Kilkenny have all the momentum”
@snastablasta: “Feels like a strange final so far....Intensity not quite there...”
The moment of magic everyone needed to make the inevitable Cats’ victory a little easier to swallow was provided by Richie Hogan — Tyrone footballer @PhilipJordan7 was among the hundreds of Twitter users to react in gushing tones: “What a goal! Hard to see Tipp coming back now.”
The Tweets ticked along as hope dwindled for the champions but then everything changed courtesy of sub Pa Bourke. @Kitsgirl1 was ecstatic “What a goal for Tipp! It’s not over yet! I LOVE HURLING” while @gubuworld wondered if Kilkenny were “starting to crumble”.
Then I cheated.
A helpful Twitter user sent me in the direction of a streaming site — I couldn’t miss those last 20 minutes.
Social media could shove it.
There’s nothing like being there. Or at least watching on TV as the September sun blazes down on the Croke Park turf, the Canal Endshadow gradually getting longer and longer.
I kept my eye on Twitter though, long after hope died at the full-time whistle.
The most enthusiastic reaction of the day was yet to come.
A rogue Kilkenny fan disrupted the expert panel on live television and provoked a strong reaction — “Mulcahy using the word ‘bollocking’ and a drunk Cats fan breaking into the studio.
“This analysis has been brilliant” tweeted @RichieMcCormack.
The almost empty stands for the Kilkenny lap of honour were mirrored on Twitter where Cats fans were far less vocal than their border rivals.
But no one could begrudge them their 33rd title.
Let’s leave the last tweet to our own John Fogarty (@john_fog) who summed it up well:
“The Cats’ class is indeed permanent. #GAA.”