That was a curious old affair in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Wednesday night between Tipperary and Cork in the Munster Under-21 championship. For 55 minutes it seemed rather bloodless and despite never stamping all over Tipp, Cork always seemed to be in control. When they took an insurance-score four point lead with seven or eight minutes to go it looked like that was that.
Then suddenly Tipp went nap. Five points in the last five minutes and the only time in the match they were in front was the only time when being in the lead mattered. It was to Ger Fitzgerald’s credit in the post-match interview that he managed to remain so calm in the face of such a collapse. Having lost both matches in the Minor championship we can all anticipate a bout of Corkonian navel-gazing at their woes at underage level, and that can only be a good thing.
Result of the night thought had to be in Port Laoise where Laois knocked out the defending Leinster champions Dublin. When the results came around near the end of the programme it took me a few second to take the news in. This was partly because the word ‘Toradh’ at the top of the screen hit my synapses not as ‘Results’ but as ‘Fruit’. Which makes sense, when you think about it. Once I’d gotten past that piece of Pythonesque farce the enormity of the result sunk in. My nephews are from Laois and while they are too young to understand – 3½ and 1½ respectively – they will be brought up to support Laois. It suddenly looks like a less grim prospect than before. Maybe when they reach their teens I’ll be vicariously living off their happiness rather than the other way around.
One final thought. I’m all in favour of the back door, but the decision to leave the Under-21 championship as pure knockout is a stroke of genius by the GAA. I’d go so far as to say that the do-or-die nature of the competition, combined with the grown-up nature of the competitors, makes the Under-21 championship more prestigious these days than the National Hurling League. No pressure on our Under-21’s next month . . .