I must hold my hands up – I predicted a Clare win against Waterford yesterday but I'm absolutely delighted that I was proven wrong.
Many other analysts were going even further and saying this was going to be a long, painful summer for Waterford hurling followers, but on the evidence of what I saw in Ennis, the young players have shown Michael Ryan they are, at the very least, prepared to put their shoulder to the wheel for the Deise cause. That's a good start.
This was a victory that not many had forecast, on the basis that Clare have an awful lot of work done over the last few months. I believe that Clare trained for 24 or 25 nights in November, all over Christmas and they were at it for 28 days in January.
Having joined the other hurlers on the ditch now, I was judging Clare on their successful Waterford Crystal Cup campaign but, as we saw on Saturday night, Tipperary are in the middle of very heavy training. And, perhaps, we read too much into Clare's comfortable win over Tipp in that final.
For me, the most pleasing thing about yesterday was the performance of the young lads. My De La Salle clubmate Jake Dillon was outstanding and I was so pleased for Brian O'Halloran, who has endured two years of injury hell.
If Waterford can keep him fit, he'll be a big addition to that forward line and don't forget that you have Maurice Shanahan, Shane Walsh and Liam Lawlor to come back into that team. There are so many positives to be taken out of the game and it takes a massive amount of pressure off the lads because they were written off as relegation candidates.
Now, a win against Cork in two weeks' time and they'll have secured their Division 1A status for next year, and put themselves in a position to push on for the semi-finals. That would be a huge achievement, considering that nobody expected anything from them.
Shane O'Sullivan really used his experience near the end to win that free and Shane Fives has returned to the fold looking a lot leaner than I've seen him.
He's put himself forward for a regular position on the team on that performance. The performance of the forwards pleased me. They played a nice brand of hurling, which was great to see.
I attended the game in Ennis yesterday and, I won't lie, I felt very awkward and strange going into the ground. For the first half I found it quite difficult looking on but as the game wore on and the more Waterford dug in, I was getting the hang of being there as a supporter. I'm only human and part of me did itch to be out there now and again, especially when the ball was zipped into the forwards. But that's only natural, particularly so soon after announcing my retirement.
Clare's supporters became animated at times with how their team was playing and this is a bit of a setback for them. There's an expectation in Clare to do well because of the emerging players at Davy Fitzgerald's disposal and they would have seen this game as a huge opportunity to kickstart their league campaign. Now, they'll have to pick up two wins elsewhere to be safe in this division and that's not going to be easy.
A good few Clare people came up to me at Cusack Park, shook my hand and wished me well for the future, which was nice. De La Salle were down for the weekend and we played Sixmilebridge in a challenge game on Saturday.
At the match yesterday, I could hide among the lads to an extent but the more the game hung in the balance, the more I let off a roar and a shout.
All in all, a productive weekend then. We had a few beers in Ennis on Saturday night and visited Davy's new place, the Dugout, along the way. I bumped into Bernard Dunne and the chat flowed freely. We talked about boxer Carl Frampton's progress and how Dublin might come up with a game plan to break down Donegal's blanket defence in the summer.
Again, it was an odd feeling playing for the club on Saturday in that challenge. In other years, I'd know that I'd be going back in with Waterford but now I'm back where it all began in 1985 and this is the way it's going to be until I retire from club hurling. I played the first half and then went over to Shannon to present a few medals at Wolfe Tones. Yesterday capped it all off, then.
Perhaps we'll surprise a few people this year, after all.
Kiernan looking for attention with attack
LIKE so many other GAA players, I was taken aback by Jerry Kiernan's comments about our fitness levels and how we don't deserve grant aid.
It's not like inter-county stars are picking up a king's ransom. Sure €400 is under €8 a week, chicken-feed really. It would barely pay the bus fare for the kids to school.
I just wondered, is Jerry looking for attention? Is he looking to go down the same road as Eamon Dunphy, by becoming a controversial analyst? Maybe the only way he's going to get attention is by attacking GAA players, and not people within the world of athletics. Or maybe he has a bee in his bonnet about not getting enough funding back in 1984.
If Kiernan (above) had more money then, maybe he would have done better than his ninth-placed finish in the Olympic Marathon and become a national hero like John Treacy. I wonder how his comments went down in his native Kerry.
Look at the 2011 All-Ireland final and Darran O'Sullivan's run that set up Kerry's goal against Dublin. O'Sullivan wouldn't have looked out of place in a 100m sprint, and the goal scored by Colm 'Gooch' Cooper would be talked about for years to come if it was FA Cup Final day in England. And is Kiernan placing the Ó Sés in the 'not fit' category?
Has he not watched Darragh, Tomas and Marc over the years? Those guys are pure athletes, and to hear rubbish like that from another Kerryman is a pure insult.
It's only club sidelines that need tidying
BRIAN Cody has said that he's disappointed with the GAA's new sideline regulations and I'm with him on this one. The GAA are missing the point.
The real trouble occurs in club matches, when you have 10-20 people from each club on the touchline. I've witnessed incidents that flare up and could spill onto the pitch or, even worse, into the stands.
There's no need to clean up the inter-county sidelines.
When's the last time we've had trouble? It's a bit like the Big Brother house – there are cameras everywhere and you're not going to get away with anything.