The storied bowl has one more to tell. Chapter closed, with no pages left unturned for the proprietors.
Cyril Farrell had a hunch things were going for them once the sun obliged and created an authentic July cauldron. The Man Above or the man above in his office? “We knew Frank Murphy had power. We didn’t know he had this kind of power.”
All set up.
They tried to make a case for the holders pooping the party. “If Limerick set a relentless, aggressive pace and play with real confidence, they have a right chance,” felt Ger Loughnane.
“They’ll be hipping and whipping,” summarised Cyril. But, but… you’d have to fancy Cork.
“I won’t disagree with the senior panellist,” concurred Liam Sheedy. Cyril took that one on the chin.
Limerick came out relentlessly and aggressively enough. They hipped and whipped. But no surplus at the interval.
“Some of the option-taking has let Limerick down,” Michael Duignan pointed out. While Cork had given us “a masterclass in economical hurling”.
Or, as Cyril would explain, with the help of Conor Lehane. “Wristy hurler. Left or right. Back over the shoulder. Bang. Over the bar.”
Level pegging. The way the summer is panning out, you began to suspect there might be unfinished business.
Cyril steered us right. “If you went into bookies they’d be enticing you… giving you 10/1 or maybe 12/1. But I don’t think so.”
Fair play to him. I could only find nines anyway.
At times like this, Cyril is immersed in a hurling bubble where traditional navigational and topographical conventions have no meaning. “There’s a nice breeze blowing down the field.” “Down being?” enquired Michael Lyster, on our behalves. Cork’s way second half.
To counter that, Ger wanted the hipping and whipping cranked up a notch. “What Limerick have to do is up the tempo. The minute they let it slacken at all, Cork have the lovely skill and movement to place their men.”
“A goal at any stage will be a big score,” suggested Sheedy. When Seamus Harnedy’s breakthrough came, the only scale to measure it on was Richter’s.
“The whole crowd was waiting to explode,” Cyril agreed after, on the verge of detonation himself. “Limerick died out there in their boots. But Cork were capable of getting scores quicker.”
Ger got the aggression he wanted from the visitors, but wondered if the six-week layoff hindered them once the cauldron started to boil. “This game will really benefit Limerick.”
Cyril spared a thought for the duals in Cork’s crown. “I’m delighted for Aidan Walsh. The football game last weekend, you’d think he lost it on his own.”
Earlier Cyril, having encountered navigational inconvenience before he stepped inside the bubble, suggested a bridge across the Lee to get full value out of the €70m stadium investment.
Now, with the eight-year drought over, Ger acknowledged the completion of another important bridge.
“That is the big point of today. Cork can now draw a line through all those strikes. The damage and the divisiveness. The crowd are back with them. The good hurling is back.
“In the whole game today, Limerick never got a shot at Anthony Nash. That just shows you how strong the structure of the Cork defence has got. I get the feeling that Cork are on a real mission this year.”
Sheedy believed they have the distance. “They had full tanks. This is an up-and-coming team. They are serious All-Ireland contenders.”
Loughnane, in magnanimous humour, shut the book. “Isn’t it so fitting, after all that Cork have given to the GAA, that Cork should lift the cup on the last day at Páirc Uí Chaoimh?”
But with space left for another chapter: “Their eyes are on the bigger prize.”
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