Image: An Spailpín Fánach
Where did that come from? I refer to the head of steam that has suddenly swelled behind the hurlers from within the county and is powering them towards Croke Park. No doubt it happens in other counties, and it’s marvellous to see something, anything, that can energise everyone in these economically nervous times. But after a week and a half or so of people poo-pooing the idea of Waterford coming away with the McCarthy Cup in the aftermath of the win over Tipp, the narrative seems to have turned right around. It can’t be that people have spotted chinks in the Kilkenny armour that weren’t there before. I fear that it’s simply a question of feeling that the Fates have decreed that, after 49 years and the near-misses of recent years, our time has come.
The reality is that life isn’t fair, that rewards don’t come to you just because you deserve it. And you don’t have to leave the island to see how true that is. When Mayo came within a whisker of ending 38 years of failure back in the 1989 All-Ireland final, Mayo fans would have been forgiven for thinking that it would only be a matter of time until Sam Maguire went way out west. This would be particularly true if you had told them they would make FOUR more appearances in the final in the next two decades.
Not only has it not happened, they’ve had enough sand kicked in their face to completely denude Tramore beach, whether it be losing to Meath in 1996 despite not being behind once in the first 135 minutes, watching John O’Mahony win two All-Irelands with Galway or being raised up by the thrilling comeback against Dublin two years ago only to be brought crashing back down to earth by Kerry in the final.
The moral of the story is that the assumption that our time has come is plain false. The match will be played on the pitch, not on the pages of some benign history. Just ask Mayo.