Cats and Tipp – they haven't gone away, you know
Published 26/02/2014 | 02:30
2013 may have been the 'levelling out' hurling championship, wherein the erstwhile dominance of Kilkenny was finally tempered and fresh, exciting, young teams such as Clare, Cork and Limerick came to the forefront.
Within that great summer of hurling, though, Kilkenny played their own significant part, and no more so than when paired with their old rivals Tipperary.
The meeting of Kilkenny and Tipp in Nowlan Park on a Saturday evening in July was out of place but wonderful, a nod to an old guard who wouldn't be put out to pasture just yet.
Last Sunday, as the Leinster and All-Ireland champions met in Parnell Park, this old guard stepped up to the plate once again at Nowlan Park to remind us of what exactly they offered up in what now seems a bygone era.
Maybe, as Joe pointed out on Monday's show, Sunday's 10-goal thriller was actually an indictment of both sides. Even so, it produced what Kilkenny-Tipp games always produce: a sense of occasion and a contest that exceeded expectations.
On Sunday, Kilkenny got the better of it, as they so often have. The fascinating thing about the rivalry has been Kilkenny's domination. It's a testament to how good Tipperary have been that we even call it a rivalry.
Since 2009, Kilkenny have won four of five championship meetings and two league finals against the old enemy. That Tipp's sole victory came in devastating fashion and stopped the five-in-a-row in 2010 certainly helps.
We got it all on Sunday, a microcosm of this exceptional rivalry. The explosiveness of Tipp, the resolve and character of Kilkenny, the excitement, the outstanding individual performances – when once it was Shefflin and Corbett, last week it was Seamus Callanan and especially Colin Fennelly (left) – and, in the end, a Kilkenny win.
It's a game that doesn't stop giving. We all welcome this new era of hurling but let's not be so tied to modernity that we can't appreciate what went before.
Kilkenny and Tipperary will still have a part to play in this revolution, and if it's against each other at some stage, all the better. Look at what they've given us to date.