Guest Author - Tony King
The All-Ireland Hurling Championship is one of the great sporting events in the whole of Ireland. Held on the first Sunday in September at Croke Park in Dublin, it is always a day of spectacle and a wonderful demonstration of the skills of the game of Irish hurling.
The defending champions Kilkenny, the first team to take to the field and arouse the vocal support of the fans, showed right from the start that “champions” are what they really are. Alert and on their toes, even during warm-up, they showed their class and the fortitude that has taken them through the preliminary rounds to a second, successive opportunity to claim the All - Ireland title.
The underdogs Limerick, sadly were lack-luster from the very beginning , to say the least. Within the first ten minutes of the game, Kilkenny outclassed, outfought and outwitted their opponents with two devastating goals and several points that clearly rattled the opposition into an attitude of defeat.
Even though Limerick came back within five points , they never showed a true capability of defeating their hurling masters. Careless ball handling, missed goal opportunities and a clearly demonstrated attitude of not being “hungry enough” to take the championship, left Limerick looking almost like amateurs in the hands of a far superior Kilkenny team.
Even when injuries removed several of the Kilkenny star players, Limerick was not quite up to the challenge. An exciting goal with about ten minutes to go ,should have resurrected new hope and vigor among the green and whites. Instead it seemed to spur on the champions to greater effort with more intricate ball handling , passing techniques and getting the job done around the goal line.
The final whistle ended a dismal and disappointing day for the Limerick squad, while the boys from Kilkenny showed that their All - Ireland win last year was not a fluke and that at the end of the day, the better team took home the championship medals.
While many fans may have been disappointed, the whole All-Ireland Final lived up to its great history and hoopla. The game of hurling is fast, very physical and one that quickly sorts out the boys from the men. While many “hurley” players now wear much of the extra safety equipment, some still cling to the “good ole days” of just a good, strong stick, and some shin guards (with a hurried prayer in the line-up). Those who have played the game for any length of time well remember the split skulls, the wounded fingers and even a broken bone here and there. But the sound of that stick connecting with the ball and seeing it soar high in between those two uprights will always compensate for the pain and suffering.
What a game !! If you haven’t seen it yet, search through the various sports channels and allow yourself two hours of enjoyment and excitement ---even if you don’t know the first thing about the game! Basically the rules are these: you must manoeuver the ball either by hand or with the stick (I think within six paces); a goal is worth three points, while a ball over the high horizontal and in between the uprights equals one point.Highest score wins ---but you can't kill the opposition ! You can do just about anything else to them but don't kill them (tongue in cheek).
Hurling, Gaelic Football and (if I may add this) Aussie Rules Football are just about the fastest, more exciting and entertaining sports you can watch. If you get the chance to do so, grab it and you'll be happy to spend two hours in front of the TV. Hey---even your wife will join you !!!!