Monday 20 February 2017

The Tribes new avengers fear to speak of 1888

Published 15/08/2015 | 02:30

'I agree with The Bomber when he expressed a good deal of sympathy for Tyrone’s Tiernan McCann who dived. He’s young and we all make mistakes when we are young. Some of us are still making them'
'I agree with The Bomber when he expressed a good deal of sympathy for Tyrone’s Tiernan McCann who dived. He’s young and we all make mistakes when we are young. Some of us are still making them'

I was driving through Birr in the Land of the Silent T's or Lowry Country and where should I end up only right in the middle of the hurling field.

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It was deadly dangerous for hurling though.

There were cars motoring up and down the pitch and the trolley driving was too dangerous for the stunt men in Ben Hur. It was sale time and the people of the midlands had lost the run of their cards.

There before us in its glory was a memorial of some consequence. The site of the supermarket and the grand car park was the very ground where, in 1888, the All-Ireland Hurling final was played out between Galway and Tipperary. It was a bad day for Galway and worse than that. The score was 1-10 for Tipperary and 0-1 for Galway. That point was surely a gimmee.

So, when I saw the headline in the paper the other day to the effect that Galway were looking for revenge, well then, naturally, I thought they were out to avenge the 1888 hammering - I mean like one point...

But I was wrong, as I usually am when it comes to small ball game.

The best hurling match I ever watched on the radio was the 2010 All-Ireland quarter-final. The score that day was Tipperary 3-17 Galway 3-16.

Ah but drivers shouldn't be allowed to drive during such thrilling encounters. It's worse than the lad steering with his left foot, tickling the girlfriend with his right and texting the missus to tell her that he'd be home soon enough and it was time to put down the spuds.

But that wasn't the revenge game either. The tussle that Galway are most bothered about is last year's match, when they were beaten by nine points.

And before some lad goes writing in, I know 1888 was really the 1887 final, which all makes perfect sense if you follow club football and hurling in the present era.

We will get back to the hurling in a minute, but first we must deal with two football controversies.

I agree with The Bomber when he expressed a good deal of sympathy for Tyrone's Tiernan McCann who dived. He's young and we all make mistakes when we are young. Some of us are still making them.

I was at a match lately with the urbane Jim Beasley from Listowel. One of our players was on a yellow and maybe he might have deserved a second. An excitable type from the opposition roared out "what are you going to do about that ref?"

To which Jim replied "give him a decade of the rosary."

The ref who is known for his sense of humour kept his card in his pocket and waved play on.

There's grounds on Tiernan's age alone for applying the Probation Act. It's always sweeter to win against a full-strength team and the Monaghan player did provoke young Tiernan.

And the Cork County Board apologised to referee Padraig Hughes. Here's what really happened. Just before the contentious penalty incident in the Kerry-Cork game, Kieran Donaghy was dragged down inside the square and off the ball. The ref probably saw the encounter, but decided, as it was a 50-50 call, to give the benefit of the doubt to the defender.

Cork weren't so lucky next time when James O' Donoghue was momentarily grabbed by the hand. It was barely a foul and was not picked up on the TV cameras who couldn't get the angle I had looking straight down the pitch. Again it was 50-50. You get one 50-50, but not another, which evens things out.

It would be hypocritical of me to criticise the Cork County Board after some of the cross words I've aimed at certain refs. Why shouldn't the board be allowed to criticise referees? Should the performance of referees be kept secret? Is the body appointed by the Cork clubs to rule over the game in the county not entitled to voice an opinion?

Back to the hurling people who say no one dives in their game, but there isn't a word when some lad gets a belt on the head from a dangerous weapon and all the commentators say is that it was "mistimed." And he's a good lad, your honour.

Lads who can puck the ball over from a 100 metres out can surely miss a man's head from one metre away. It annoys me.

And as for Tipperary and Galway, there's no doubt but the season needs a classic. This might just be the one.

I'm not going to make a prediction other than to say the criticism flung at me as a result of tipping Limerick to win the All- Ireland was unjustified.

There are thousands of men who don't understand women, but still love the girls and there isn't a word about them. Not a word. Did I say thousands? I meant billions.

I admit I did tip my neighbours to win the Liam MacCarthy, but I didn't say when, did I? So there.

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