Following Waterford has always led one to see slights where none exist. For years I would pay extra special attention to the opening titles on The Sunday Game to see if a Waterford player was included in the montage. It was ridiculous to feel insulted if they were not. We simply weren’t good enough to be treated seriously, and as this year’s titles demonstrate, not showing us now that we are the GAA’s foremost provider of excitement would be unthinkable.
Then there is the scoreboard at big matches. We always seem to be at the bottom. This isn’t entirely unreasonable, seeing as we are alphabetically last in the province – in English, anyway. Besides, I can vaguely recall occasions when we were not, so perhaps I shouldn’t be so precious on that score.
But something has finally crystalised in my mind which demonstrates that, while we may be top now, we’ll always be bottom as far as the rest of the province in concerned. I refer to the allocation of terraces at Semple Stadium.
The hierachy of Munster hurling works like this. Kerry are nowhere. This is self-evident, although I concede that it might undermine my railing at the snobbery at work. So we’ll leave Kerry out of the equation. Tipp and Cork are first, and thus they get the pick of terraces at Thurles, Tipp taking the Killinan End and Cork taking the Town End. Other counties must defer to this at all time. Their pre-eminence is just as axiomatic as Kerry’s nowhereness, so this doesn’t bother me (much).
It’s when you move into the middle ranks that it gets sinister. As the following table shows, Clare, Limerick and Waterford have been relatively even since the Second World War in terms of All-Ireland and Munster titles (newly updated to reflect events of the last few days):
Okay, that’s a table deliberately designed to omit Limerick’s pre-Emergency excellence, but it shows it’s been a while since the fourth most successful county in hurling were really supping at the top table. And yet, despite the even nature of the middle scrum in Munster, we always be rudely be pushed aside for either of the other in Thurles.
Think about it. Should Clare have played last Sunday, Limerick would have been still on the Town End. But if Clare played instead of Limerick, we would have been bumped onto the Town End. Bottom of the Munster food chain. It would make you want to join the Leinster championship. Well, not really. But it’d make you think about it.