The main reason I got so effusive despite losing in the end to Kilkenny was a sense of optimism for the future of Waterford hurling. And with ten minutes remaining in the Munster Minor final the following day, it looked like the headline from the 1950’s section of Our Dumb Century of “Flint, Michigan, Enters Golden Age of Unending Prosperity” was going to be applicable to Waterford, Ireland. Students of 20th century American history will know it didn’t turn out that way for Flint, and two weeks later the Waterford golden age appears to be over before it has even begun.
The sting of the loss for the Minors will hopefully be mitigated by Sunday evening as they get a second/third chance against Antrim. And yes, I know one should never count yer chickens etc, but two years ago Antrim were beaten at this stage by an eye-watering 38 points by Galway. Simply put, would you rather we were meeting Galway? While it’s never nice to miss out on a Munster title, the lopsided manner in which the two games unfolded – Limerick requiring a late-burst to stay in the drawn game, Waterford relying on regular sucker-punches from Stephen Bennett to stay in the replay – suggests only a fool would confidently predict a third game. Let’s hope we get another third chance.
The Under-21’s loss was comprehensively dealt with by Giveitfong, and while I demur from his habit of listing everything that went wrong in a four-point loss and treating each as if it were an unforgivable transgression, it’s hard to dispute the logic of each of his complaints. The Austin Gleeson one in particular is a bizarre state of affairs. It wouldn’t bother me that any members of the panel might have been put out by him being parachuted into the team at such a late stage. Had he saved the day, everyone would be too busy celebrating to give a damn (see: Paul Flynn in 1992). But it was a very long-odds punt and had he taken a blow in advance of the Minor replay a mere five days later there would have been hell to pay. One thing I would add to Giveitfong’s analysis is a sense of frustration at failing to make home advantage count. We’ve fallen at the first hurdle in each of the last three years at this level, and when you consider how much closer we were to Clare this year than last, it’s galling that a lack of planning and a lack of discipline meant we couldn’t ram that advantage home. After their dismantling of Cork, Tipperary are surely going to take some stopping. But based on previous years of home-and-away arrangements we would have had them in our backyard. Definitely a missed opportunity.
After a tough couple of weeks for underage hurling in the county, let’s end on a lighter note. Before the game my nephew was taking pictures of anything that happened to be in the viewfinder at the moment he clicked on the button. Shoes, close-ups of barriers, clear blue sky – you name something that had nothing to do with the match, he photographed it. However, amidst this frenzy of clicking he did manage to capture a certain former All-Ireland Under-21-winning captain:
As many an opponent has discovered over the years, you just can’t get away from the man!