— Niall Howard (@deiseach) March 6, 2016
Nothing more needs to be said.
Oh okay, if you insist. We really did need to beat Cork, didn’t we? Having speculated recently that they were not up to much, this theory was emphasised in bold, underline, italics and a grim Gothic font as Cork were crushed on Saturday night by Dublin. I’d say I felt a sense of schadenfreude at the anguish of their supporters on Twitter, but there was nothing shameful about this joy. Only this week a Cork lad in work was asking us “when did ye last win the All-Ireland?”, as if he had a clutch of Celtic crosses himself but had lost them down the back of the sofa. They are on their knees, and it is compulsory to apply the boot with extreme prejudice. You wouldn’t want to gloat too hard though. Two years ago we had four points from the first two games only for the wheels to fly off in spectacular fashion and end up getting relegated. The possibility of ending up in a winner-takes-all-loser-takes-a-fall game against Cork still loomed large. All it would take then for disaster to strike would be one careless challenge leading to two yellow cards and, well, just ask Everton and Man Utd fans, aha-ha.
We have no such worries now. No, we don’t, despite Derek McGrath expressing concern on the radio that we might not end up in the quarters with six points. Cork cannot overtake us and if Galway get up to six points by beating Tipperary and Waterford, Tipp can get no more than four points. We will be in the quarter-finals. The question is who we will meet there or, more pertinently, who we would like to meet there. A home draw would be lovely and the only chance of that is to play a team from Division 1B who has also played three games at home. By my reckoning Clare and Offaly will have played three matches at home while Limerick and Wexford will have only played two matches at home. So the ideal opponents would be Offaly where we would have a 50:50 chance of a home draw. If you are from Offaly and take offence at the notion that I would rather play you than Clare, all I can say is: get a grip. I’m being generous by assuming that you will definitely finish ahead of Kerry.
I’m going to regret such presumptuousness . . . tripe! During the week Derek McGrath suggested that Tipperary were ‘four or five years ahead of Waterford‘. One should never take such pronouncements too seriously, but let’s assume he really believes that. Given where we are now, how would you feel if we were in the same position that Tipperary are now in five years time? I’d be thrilled – if we were talking about the footballers. The hurlers? Not so much. Why should Austin Gleeson, an All-Ireland medal winner and All-Star who has grown up without a speck of the kind of inferiority complex that has blighted our interactions with Tipp over the decades, view their current standing as the limit of his aspirations?
Okay, that probably is a bit presumptuous. You can be sure that Michael Ryan – the Tipp version, not our Scully – will have accused his team of defecating on the jersey of John and Jimmy Doyle with their craven capitulation to the non-entities south of the Suir. Where Derek McGrath is coming from is to warn the players not to get too carried away. League wins are ten-a-penny these days in Waterford. But that in itself represents a huge improvement on what went before. Keep it up, and the promised land isn’t just likely. It’s inevitable.