I read somewhere once that the reason it is so hard for us to get objects into space is that you have to move really fast to beat the turning of the Earth. If you don’t get to escape velocity, the planet will catch up with you before you have gotten into orbit. Once you get to escape velocity though, you can happily expend no energy in staying up there as the planet will turn and you will, quite literally, miss it.
This came to mind when pondering Waterford’s win over Cork at the weekend. Every year is an attempt to get into orbit, and not only are we not getting there, we’re using up a hell of lot of energy just to prevent being pancaked back into terra firma. It’s horrible to think of the amount of planning and effort that has gone into the Waterford team that was moving through the gears midway through the second half. It’s not just the preparation of the team itself. It’s the years of diligent cultivation of young talent which has brought the likes of Austin Gleeson, Patrick Curran, Shane Bennett and (lest we forget, not that we are likely to) Tadhg de Búrca to the fore. And it’s horrible because, despite doing that far better than Cork have done in recent times, we just barely got out of Dodge with the two points.
Let’s be frank (Murphy) about it. We needed to beat Cork. Last year we clobbered them in the League final by a record margin and the Under-21’s recorded our first ever win over them on Leeside. They ended their year by getting walloped by Galway and didn’t fare much better last week against the Tribesmen. All the while during the game in Páirc Uí Rinn I was checking out how Galway were getting on against Dublin, and the answer was: not very well. And despite all of that, this game was almost a carbon copy of our Munster championship game last season where, despite dominating for long periods, they could have stolen it right at the end. History weighs heavily on us, lightly on them.
To say we needed to beat Cork might seem a bit strong. It’s bandied around by pundits all the time, yet despite this need teams who fail to fulfil such a need have a pesky habit of coming out on top. I’m sure some people said we needed to beat Kilkenny to keep up momentum. No, we didn’t need to beat Kilkenny, no more than Tipperary will see their season as over for failing to do so. The perverse thing is that having beaten Kilkenny, the pressure was actually increased on getting the result against Cork. If we couldn’t escape the pull of something as weak as Cork, who are an utter mess, then we would have no hope of getting across that threshold and into orbit.
Let’s not go borrowing trouble though. They can have the post mortem safe in the knowledge that we did win. We may be trying to get into orbit, but it’s important to remember we were once in the Mariana Trench, and it looked in recent past like we were heading back there: