So there I was, sitting in a New Forest pub watching Andy Murray try to topple Roger Federer on Centre Court at Wimbledon. An idle text was fired off home asking whether anything was happening in the world of GAA. There was a quick response to inform me that Galway had roared into a 1-6 to no score lead over Kilkenny, and I watched with increasing disbelief as periodic updates informed me that they did not yield to win their first ever Leinster championship. Never mind Andy Murray’s chances of winning, this was as surprising as Laura Robson beating Federer.
A while back I was gloating over our tremendous record over Galway on the GAA Discussion Board especially in the light of our thrilling win over them in 2009, opining that the result hit Galway hurling harder than any other tough result in recent times. They really thought that could be their year and a Galway poster on the board, a man who is both very likeable and a ferocious admirer of Waterford hurling, bemoaned that it was a pity that Waterford had chosen that moment to suddenly flex our muscles for Galway would have had the confidence to take Kilkenny had they met that year. I was dismissive of such a point of view, reasoning that a) were Waterford meant to fall on our sword in the national interest and b) if Galway couldn’t beat Waterford what chance would they have against Kilkenny?
Rhetorical questions at the time but while point (a) still stands, point (b) doesn’t look so hot. Galway clearly have a hex (albeit a small one) over the Cats and the value of that hex was such that all through my week in England and France I was wondering whether we might be better off losing to Tipperary in the Munster final as not only would we avoid Kilkenny’s half of the draw but we’d be able to reach into our juju bag and assuming we could beat Limerick/Cork not taking them for granted play each game as it comes yadda yadda yadda we could bring Galway crashing down to earth. Hexcellent!
In the end, for what it’s worth, I wanted us to win yesterday. While a Munster championship would be nice, beating Tipperary is always better than nice. And then there’s the issue of the hex. That’s four defeats in a row to Tipperary now, and while Michael Ryan will take some pleasure from a fourteen point improvement on last season and the demise from this year’s championship of the team managed by his predecessor, the fact remains that a seven-point beating in the second-half shows we are not that close to beating Tipp, just as we can’t beat Kilkenny. And unless you think Limerick are going to account for Kilkenny, we’re going to have to beat at least one of them to win the All-Ireland.
I’m being too gloomy. Following the one-game-at-a-time mantra, we have to beat Cork which we have repeatedly shown we can do. Then there’s Galway – these games are mapped out, so no tempting fate here – which we have repeatedly shown we always do. That leaves the All-Ireland final, a one-off game where anything can happen, right? Maybe the Gods have decreed that it is not British tennis fans who will end a decades-long search for success this year but someone else entirely. It’s only fair – Tony Browne has had to wait nearly as long.