Tipperary hurlers are alone again in a crowded hall

Tipperary hurlers are alone again in a crowded hall

Tipperary’s Noel McGrath dejected after his side’s defeat in the 2021 Munster Hurling Senior Championship Final against Limerick at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Move along the rest of ye, this is Tipp business.

As the great Cyril Farrell put it on Dalo’s podcast, there would be nothing wrong with Waterford winning the All-Ireland. But it’s ourselves we must think of, at times like this, since there’s no danger anyone else will.

The right funny men have had field days for a fortnight. WhatsApp melted in amusement at this inability to do back to back halves not to mind All-Irelands. The walking dogs to hold onto a lead gag produced more varieties than Heinz.

Before all that, an oul penalty for Tipp against Clare blew the nation’s outrage gaskets. Then Dalo and the lads talked for two hours and forgot to even mention Gillane’s swipe. An accurate reading of general sympathy levels for any injustice done unto Tipp.

We’re alone again in a crowded hall.

What could you do but retreat within the borders? I travelled our own 8 Mile Road a few times the past two weeks. The golden fertile stretch from the Mahers’ Thurles, beyond Seamie at the Ragg, past a turn for the McGraths, and into Brendan’s Borris. Where wrists grow on trees. If bagged anywhere you’d be pulled for being Tippsy.

But it’s flushed and a bit shook we are now. Normally the mood swings are less pronounced. There’s fairer warning. But then the full Tipp experience came at us in 70 minutes. The wild ride. Concentrated, high-grade Tippness.

A first half where it flowed like Orinoco. Pinging, popping, driving. Hurling in gasps.

Forde swinging them over thoughtlessly on a blue and gold rainbow. Bubbles slingshotting a proper goal. Wrists snapping, cobwebs dancing. Not a freak goal from the Olympics, or the circus, like big Kyle’s later.

Maybe we were intoxicated with our own brilliance. A condition often misunderstood as arrogance when all we’re doing is giving thanks for fragile blessings. Sheedy just honouring scripture. Let the rivers clap their hands.

Some will tell you they could feel the old fear rising. Something tingling the old spidey senses, that learned instinct that there is always a price to be paid for moments of great jubilation.

Some swear they knew we were playing so well he should have taken off four or five of them.

We’re back to the old Home and Away theory, a show popular in Tipp not just down to our lack of coastal access, but because Summer Bay gets us.

Over and over it tells us that the minute you are in a really good place, the moment you declare life could not be going better, that’s when Alf might as well start unrolling the ordnance survey of the bush for a search and rescue operation.

If you didn’t feel it at half-time, we all felt it when Limerick tanks had barely started rumbling. That old familiar fatalism, that the tide was coming in. That the bill was being collected.

The gloom is deep since. After the U20s loss, then the minors, latest estimates have us down for 10 years minimum. A county is looking sadly beyond the legends of the 8 Mile Road.

And yet, there was surely encouragement last weekend. Signs that something is happening in hurling bigger than our own mood swings, that something has been unleashed.

They thought, for a while, the game had been contained. Could now be performed in laboratory conditions. That every single thing was measurable.

Plot your tactics on a board and set your tachograph to drive 30 points.

But the lid has been prised loose. In the wild lurches, in the elemental, if fruitless, comebacks by Galway and Clare, we may be seeing hurling enter some kind of latter-day Champions League phase.

No lead too big. Lads like Jason Flynn capsizing tactics boards with cut and verve. It should suit Tipp, in theory, this world of pure imagination. When goals are back in vogue.

Back when he liked to crank up the heavy amps, Kloppo used to say you can score seven goals in five minutes, if you want. “It’s not likely but it’s possible, so we should give it a try.”

Tipp managed seven against Waterford not too long ago, though the mood swung dramatically before that year was out too.

The Savage Hunger is also back in vogue, if it ever went away. Even deep thinkers like Éamonn Fitzmaurice and Derek McGrath are talking of the need for a cause, and the power of hurt.

If a cause is needed, Tipp can hardly be short of volunteers ready to give the boys on the golden stretch a lift, after all they’ve given.

“That’ll only keep you going for 15 minutes,” pointed out Ronan McCarthy before the Munster football final, which turned out to be an accurate enough prediction, if he was talking about Cork.

But 15 minutes could be plenty in hurling. If you lose yourself, as the lad from the other 8 Mile Road urged.

If you go with the flow.

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