At half-time in the match against Dublin back in February, it looked like a case of the same ol’ Jackeens. Plenty of huff and puff but were being outfoxed by the greater wiles of Waterford. And if Waterford were being too cute for them, what chance would they have against Kilkenny?
Now we know. I’ve said it in the past, I don’t understand the contempt in which Dublin is held by the rest of the GAA and it should be a day for all of us to rejoice. Much of the talk recently has been what can be done to make the League better – Martin Breheny’s most recent cooker-cutter gripe about the format claimed that the GAA lose out on €1.25m by only having a final; note that should they have quarter-finals and semi-finals he’ll complain that most of the group games are meaningless as a result. All of these complaints are honest – yes, even Breheny’s! – attempts to make the League more meaningful, but they are predicated on the assumption that a format can be magicked up that will overcome the underlying lack of parity between teams. Does Dublin’s win now make the current format the best one? Hardly. What it shows is that when you’re good enough the format doesn’t matter. And Dublin now look good enough.
Suddenly the Championship looks like a shining light ahead in a silver sea. Hurling’s last Golden Age was so because the likes of Clare, Limerick, Offaly and Wexford were routinely rubbing Kilkenny, Cork and Tipperary’s noses in the dirt. Dublin gave us a glimpse of such a future today. Hopefully we can be there alongside them. Congratulations, Dublin.