This conversation between Stephen Long and Hurling Facts on Twitter got me thinking. Our inability to beat Kilkenny and Tipperary has left us going into the Clare game unsure about the long run benefits of victory. If we beat Clare and Tipperary lose to Cork then we’re highly likely to end up playing Tipperary or Kilkenny in the All-Ireland semi-final – Tipp if we win the Munster title, Kilkenny if we lose. If we lose today and Tipperary win the Munster title then we’re likely to end up playing Tipperary or Kilkenny in the All-Ireland semi-final – they can’t play against each other as provincial champions. It’s a form of the prisoner’s dilemma. We don’t know what other party (Tipperary) are doing so we can’t make an informed choice.
There’s only one solution to this dilemma – you go out to win every game. If we’re not good enough to beat Clare today, there’s practically no chance we’re good enough to win the All-Ireland. It’s all well and good having something in reserve, but what’s the point of holding it back when you could be using it?
And yes, I am assuming Kilkenny are going to win the Leinster championship. Message for Galway, Offaly and Dublin mentors – feel free to put this post on the wall of the dressing room as extra motivation. You’ll thank me later for the difference it made when you met Kilkenny.