The meeja loves looking at things past for titbits about current events, and there was plenty to chew over about last night’s Under-21 final between Waterford and Clare in Dungarvan. Clare’s appalling 0 for 12 record in Munster finals stood in curious contrast to Waterford’s, whose three wins in the competition came at the expense of the Banner. Normally lazy hacks bang on about how “something has to give”, but last night it was all or nothing.
And in the end, it was all. I’m not saying for one second that the Waterford team didn’t care, but there was no denying that once Clare got in sight of the finishing line there was only going to be one winner. We would have been able to observe the phenomenon of a team feeling liberated by the prospect of ending the pain that had afflicted previous generations of their county men when we won the 2002 Munster championship. I wrote then how “the Waterford team must have been a terrifying sight. Nostrils flared, eyes bulging, sweating adrenalin, they steamed after every ball as if their lives depended upon it”, and you could see echoes of that in Clare last night. Ger Loughnane lost to Waterford in 1974 as a player and 1992 as a manager at this stage of the competition, so it must have been inspirational to the Clare team to have succeeded where so many of their illustrious predecessors had come up short.
Hard to know what to make of it for Waterford i.e. I don ‘t know enough about the team to make in informed judgement. Obviously it’s disappointing they couldn’t close out the deal after that thumping win over Tipperary, but there’s no shame in losing a tight game against an inspired team. There’s not much point in waiting to see how Clare do to gauge how good we were – they could be a brilliant team yet still lose to Galway. Whatever happens now, it’s been a great year at underage level.
Two last observations, or one with a sting in the tail. It was good to be able to feel no animosity towards Clare on the basis that they were Clare. The wounds of 1998 have well and truly healed. So it has nothing to do with being a bitch when I note that despite the momentous nature of their victory, nobody in Clare seemed bothered updating the Wikipedia page, that task falling to Pmunited, a contributer “living in the US, but born in Ireland”. And there was me thinking Ennis was Ireland’s information town . . . okay, that was rather bitchy. Well done to the Banner.