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.evaluates a quality fiction/hurling stand-off between Limerick’s Kevin Barry and Tipperary’s Donal Ryan.
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.
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.
“Mouth of teeth on him like a vandalised graveyard, but we all have our crosses.”
“There’s no man on this earth can even be assured he’ll have a next day.”
“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.”
In Ryan’s short story Long Puck, a priest tries to get Syrians interested in hurling. The priest is from Tipperary, which seems significant.
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.
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.
Aaron Gillane: a tricky attacker with street-smarts.
Brendan Maher: quality operator with plenty of steel behind the class.
Frankie Carroll: swashbuckling stylist, devil-may-care nervelessness.
Mick Roche: traditional, classy, moving smoothly.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
“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.”