When Waterford surrendered their All-Ireland Under-21 crown in 1993, losing to Limerick on their first defence, there was murder on the airwaves. Déise AM, or whatever the equivalent was back in those days, was ablaze with recrimination and accusation as assignation of blame was sought by all and sundry. It was most unedifying, and things weren’t about to get any better as the Kerry senior hurlers lurked in the long grass. So it represents progress of a sort that defeat to Tipperary has not led to an orgy of finger-pointing. They were bigger than us. Next time, we’ll have a bigger boat.
All of that satisfaction at such a collegiate mentality doesn’t mean no one is entitled to have a go though, and Dan Shanahan has fulfilled his anointed role as provocateur-in-chief, lashing out at Davy Fitz as he exited stage left.
But this isn’t on a par with the aforementioned Under-21 rancour, or even his cold-shouldering of Justin McCarthy in 2008. Yeah, he felt he didn’t get a fair crack of the whip – what habitual substitute doesn’t? – and his jibe about Tipp getting “our tactics off more than anything else” is fair comment. But he was quite explicit that the responsibility for selecting the manager lay with the County Board, so no strikes here. When you see certain characters lingering around like Evander Holyfield, certain that they can squeeze one more year out of their ageing bodies to justify their past actions and land the main prize, it’s good to see that some Old Big ‘Eads know when their “time is up”.
Dan’s comments raise legitimate points about Davy Fitz’s tenure. It has been a success. When he took charge, the only way looked down and we’ve reached an All-Ireland final and won another Munster title, something only Justin had managed previously. But we may well have peaked under this regime. Thankfully it looks like we’ll have a quiet period of reflection rather than a gunfight at OK Corral to decide where we go from here, and the dignified manner in which the likes of Dan is taking their leave – yes, dignified – will make things that process easier.