There is a phrase in American sports that suggests the drawing a game is the equivalent of kissing your sister, while I let that imagine settle in you mind we have the treat of Cork and Clare facing off in another All Ireland Hurling final on the 28th of September to look forward to.
The hurling championship which has thrown up shock after shock and twist after turn it seems obvious on reflection that it wouldn’t be settled over 70 minutes or 73 minutes for that matter. Cynics will point a conspiracy on the part of the GAA to pad the coffers but I’m sure neutral hurling fans will only be too delighted to have a replay.
The All Ireland hurling final had not seen a draw since 1959 when it took Waterford 2 games to put their neighbours Kilkenny to the sword in winning their second All Ireland, now we have had two in a row. Last year’s drama involved Galway’s Joe Canning securing a second bite of the cherry for the Tribesmen against Kilkenny. Kilkenny returned in the replay and recovered from 2 early goals to win 3-22 to 3-11. The prevailing wisdom is, if the underdog doesn’t do it in the first match then their chance is gone.
The summer of 1991 saw an immense series of games between Dublin and Meath in Croke Park in which it took 4 attempts to separate the neighbours. As the old saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt and these teams didn’t disappoint. In games which lead to one or two replays every slight and injustice is committed to players memories. Bubbling away in the weeks between games and unleashed when the whistle blows and battle re-commences, tension is ratcheted up to boiling point. Meath prevailed at the fourth attempt by a single point, a winning margin any bigger than that would have been an injustice to the drama of it all.
In 1997 Meath again found themselves involved in an epic battle in the Leinster championship. This time their quarry was the Lilywhites of Kildare. Whereas the 1991 Dublin Meath series of games was noted for it physical intensity these three games were noted for the quality of the football played. Meath won the day again, perhaps there is a built in stubbornness in the Meath GAA.
There is no doubt that the GAA leadership are delighted to see major games, in particular games played in front of a full house at HQ, end in a draw. It’s another pay day for the association and while it hurts the pockets of fans as the queues grow outside the credit union they can rest assured that the money is being pumped back into the sport they love.