The best game of hurling ever, and therefore the best game of anything ever, was the 2009 All-Ireland final. Tipperary were on the way up and had just about drawn level with a Kilkenny team coming down from the heights they had hit the previous year (sez he self-servingly). It took your breath away just to watch it on the telly. And yet, all the talk afterwards was about the referee.
Wind forward seven years and whaddya know, we’re talking about Diarmuid Kirwan again. Taken in isolation this decision was much worse. Not giving Jamie Barron the free was just wrong. I’ve suggested in the past that referees are willing to admit to ‘mistakes in general, but…never make mistakes in particular‘ (warning: link includes added Nazi references), but surely Kirwan would have to admit that this was a blunder, so blatant was the foul.
Nothing happens in isolation though, and we really need to park any sense of injustice. It was a mistake. Talk of Kirwan being out to get us is surely overblown. A popular search reaching this website is ‘results of waterford hurling games referred by diarmuid kirwan’ and a report by Giveitfong about our Under-21’s loss to Tipperary back in 2011. This will bring snorts of derision from Tipp fans still smarting over the 2009 final. Coming back to last Sunday, the free that would have followed the foul on Barron was hardly a gimme, and there would have been ample time for Clare to rescue the game. The subsequent free from which Clare equalised was a dubious one but came from the realm of I’ve-seen-them-given, and there was also time for Waterford to win it. Instead they did. Them’s the breaks.
It’s hard, but we have to take the positives. Over 160 minutes we took on the All-Ireland champions of three years ago, laden down with multiple Under-21 medals and fresh from having walloped Kilkenny out the gate, and came up one point short. It’s very reassuring to see that Derek McGrath is taking the defeat on the chin, as is Patrick Curran – there’s an old head on young shoulders if ever there was one. We got knocked down on Sunday. Time to get back up again and on to the next one. Gee, I wonder who that could be against?