Writing the perfect novel of Limerick v Tipperary

Limerick and Tipperary face off in tomorrow’s Munster senior hurling final. You know that. But the conflict is not confined to the Gaelic Grounds. Michael Moynihan evaluates a quality fiction/hurling stand-off between Limerick’s Kevin Barry and Tipperary’s Donal Ryan.

Writing the perfect novel of Limerick v Tipperary

Limerick and Tipperary face off in tomorrow’s Munster senior hurling final. You know that. But the conflict is not confined to the Gaelic Grounds. Michael Moynihan evaluates a quality fiction/hurling stand-off between Limerick’s Kevin Barry and Tipperary’s Donal Ryan.

Representing

KB: Limerick.

DR: Nenagh.

General appearance

KB: Crafty corner-forward. Goal-hanger. Draws umpires’ attention to the defender hanging out of his jersey. Only player in dressing room with Horse Meat Disco in the earphones.

DR: Imposing centre-back. Leads by example, never shouts. Points to numbers 5 and 7 where to go. Happy to try that long-range equalising free in injury time, doesn’t beat himself up if it goes wide.

Typical line from work

KB: “Mouth of teeth on him like a vandalised graveyard, but we all have our crosses.”

DR: “There’s no man on this earth can even be assured he’ll have a next day.”

Representation of hurling in work

KB: “I’ve only one mention of sport in my own new book (City of Bohane)... ‘long gone in Bohane the days of the All-Irelands’. All we know about sport in Bohane is that there’s a classic All-Ireland drought.”

DR: In Ryan’s short story Long Puck, a priest tries to get Syrians interested in hurling. The priest is from Tipperary, which seems significant.

Recent county game they could write about involving their own county

KB: Not Limerick’s joyous All-Ireland win last year, which would be far too obvious. The 2015 All-Ireland semi-final, played in driving rain with Limerick being pipped by Kilkenny by two points, would be a fitting canvas for Barry. Right down to the miserable pints on the quays heading to the train back.

DR:

The 2010 All-Ireland final victory for Tipperary was more a relief, almost, than a joyous outpouring. Ryan could do justice to the lonely bachelor farmer walking his fields, half-brooding, half-smiling, after watching the final stages on TV.

If they were on the current county team they would be

KB: Aaron Gillane: a tricky attacker with street-smarts.

DR: Brendan Maher: quality operator with plenty of steel behind the class.

If they were on a previous county team they would be

KB: Frankie Carroll: swashbuckling stylist, devil-may-care nervelessness.

DR: Mick Roche: traditional, classy, moving smoothly.

As Limerick/Tipperary manager he would

KB: Likely get his midfielders to decamp to southern Spain and to loiter around a ferry port, threatening New Age Travellers. Though whether Cian Lynch and Darragh O’Donovan would be suited to that role remains to be seen.

DR: Ask his players to dwell on what the present implications of past actions might be. Further back in the past than the last Limerick-Tipperary game, that is.

As manager would most likely to tell a reporter after a disappointing game

KB: “Tricky the paths a long love might follow, like the spiral down twists of a raindrop on a windowpane” — but applied to the difficulty of winning your own restarts against the wind.

DR: “That’s the thing about December: it goes by you in a flash. If you just close your eyes, it’s gone. And it’s like you were never there” — but applied to the feeling when your star forward misses the best goal chance of the game.

Best advice to John Kiely a minute before tomorrow’s game

KB: “It’s about what you’ve got to put yourself through to make anything worthwhile. It’s about going to the dark places and using what you find there.”

..and for Liam Sheedy

DR: “What’s in the past can’t be changed and what’s to come can’t be known and you can’t give your life to worrying.”

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