Saturday 3 December 2016

Banishing Kilkenny to Thurles for replay is a disgrace

Published 10/08/2016 | 02:30

Action from the game last Sunday Picture: Sportsfile
Action from the game last Sunday Picture: Sportsfile

The Dubs would never be banished to the provinces for an All-Ireland semi-final. Why should the greatest team in the history of Irish sport (Kilkenny, if anyone is doubtful on this score) have to put their title on the line in Thurles? If they go out of the All-Ireland championship - and the brilliant young Waterford players certainly deserved to beat them on Sunday - they surely deserve to go out in the only stadium in Ireland worthy of their greatness.

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Admittedly, I am an English blow-in, but I begin to think that I shall never understand the Irish. I turned to RTÉ on Saturday evening to watch Mayo against Tyrone and Donegal against Dublin, only to find that these matches were not on live Irish television. RTÉ has greater aspirations than to promote Irish sport, indeed sport unique to Ireland. RTÉ commentators had all decamped to Rio to watch beach volley ball and synchronised diving.

On Sunday afternoon, we watched one of the greatest matches ever played in Croke Park between the amateurs of Kilkenny and Waterford. I'm up there with Marty Morrissey, whose superlatives fell short of what we were watching. At the end of the match I was in tears at what Waterford had achieved and the disappointment they must have felt, and I urge the Waterford selectors to continue to show faith in their young players such as Colin Dunford (Colligan) and Shane Bennett (Ballysaggart). These are the players, like the great Richie Power of Carrickshock, to score the goals that will finally ensure victory.

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