Minor Miscellany

Oh, cruel world! With the All-Ireland finals being staged in the second and fourth Sundays of September this year, it means that, should the GAA revert to the more traditional and recent habit of playing them on the first and third Sunday, we will be only able to lay claim to the Irish Press Cup for fifty-one weeks. Life just ain’t fair.

So it’s important we make the most of it. Up the Déise posted an image from the semi-final win showing DJ Foran setting off towards goal with over 25% of the Kilkenny team in hot, futile pursuit:

A great image on its own merits, and credit where credit is due to the photographer. But it was this comment that really captured the moment:

Catch me if you can

And so say all of us.

I always fret that I make too big a deal about the success of the Minors, so it was reassuring on the day to see the lavish coverage served up by TV3 – what a step-up from the days when the game was an interruption of the analysis of the Senior game – and Seán Power’s post-match emphasis on how big a deal this was. A lot of planning and effort has gone into Waterford hurling since the nadir of Division 3 in the 1980’s, and it would be fair to say that a healthy club scene is a positive thing in itself. Still, the battle for hearts and minds is about more than just giving people the opportunity to play the game. We want everyone in Waterford to support Waterford. To put things into context, check out this house in Tramore:

Viper in the nest

Admittedly this wasn’t taken on the day of the Minor final, but on the 22nd of July when Clare steamrollered Galway in the Senior championship. And there’s nothing wrong with a family supporting their native county even when living ‘abroad’, right? No, there isn’t. Not intellectually, at least. But this family are not from Galway. Nor are their parents from Galway. One of their grandfathers is from Galway. Yet they support Galway at all levels, even unto playing against Waterford. When you consider all the Cork (ahem), Kilkenny and Tipperary-supporting families in our midst, it’s borderline miraculous that we have anyone supporting the county team. Winning All-Ireland titles, even at Minor level, can only help hold back the tide.

The match went off swimmingly, and the trophy came across the Suir for only the third time ever. As the MC on the night of the homecoming pointed out, imagine how many times it went through Ferrybank on its way to Slieverue and Glenmore, pausing only to mock the Redmond/Rice bridges – named for men from Wexford and Kilkenny; we’re way too tolerant. But now it was on The Mall to huge roars from the delighted crowd. The heroes of the night strode from the bus with the grace of Apollo . . . bloody hell, they’re only boys! Whether it be watching them live in Walsh Park or on the telly in Croke Park, the lack of other points of reference means you look at them in much the same way you would an adult team. Looking at them now though, trouser arses around their knees and flinging themselves at the cameras with youthful abandon, it hit me that the team I had been following  so eagerly all summer were, quite literally, young enough to be my children. I’m not saying it was a bad shock, just that I never gave any head space to the concept before that moment. Hopefully I’ll have plenty of opportunities to get used to the idea in the future.

10 Homecoming 9 September 2013

Ah, the future. A poster on the GAA Discussion Board on Monday afternoon was of the belief that it was important to “keep their feet on the ground and Waterford may reap the benefits 5, 6 years down the line”, and looking at the bumfluff-clad faces later on I could see his point. However, if the team were getting any notions of grandeur they would have been swept away by the middle of the week as the reality of club hurling hit home:

Looks like every teenager in the county had been on the beer. Except the players themselves. I spoke to someone who had been at the Portlaw-Tramore game and he said that DJ Foran scored seven of Portlaw’s goals, and Barry Whelan scored three for Tramore and could have had three more. The kids will be all right. The cup will hopefully be in Tramore before too long and we should all get our photos taken in the forty-nine weeks it’ll be here before some young git climbs the Hogan Stand to take it away from us. Unless, of course, we win it again. Feet on the ground, feet on the ground . . .