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So many ways to skin the Cats

EVEN a county with the innate cockiness of Cork, and the medals to back it up, couldn't do it. Limerick were innocent lambs to the first-half slaughter. The Déise? Oh, don't even go there.

Tipperary were the first pretenders to suggest the merest innuendo of All-Ireland mortality among Cody's flesh-eating cougars ... and still they couldn't suppress those killer Cats for the full 70 minutes.

So then, can anyone out there stop them? Yes we can! More precisely, let us humbly submit the Curve Ball Ten Step Plan for halting Kilkenny's ongoing global domination of the small ball world.

Just because you can't beat them with a stick doesn't mean you can't derail them with a cunning plan straight out of the Blackadder School of Dark Arts and Deception ...

STEP 1: Go down to your local voodoo doll shop. Ask for a caricature of Henry Shefflin. And a rather large pin. Go home, close the curtains, make sure no one is watching ... then stick aforementioned pin into said doll's left knee. Await developments.

STEP 2: In 99pc of cases, Step 1 would result in immediate and spectacular results. However, there are no such guarantees with Kilkenny, who are built to repel all manner of evil conspiracies. So if Henry magically manages to hurl again within weeks, try something more radical ... kidnap Ger Hartmann.

STEP 3: This one is for all ambitious would-be blazers, albeit it could take years to bear fruit. Infiltrate your way onto the Kilkenny county board. The locals will be initially suspicious -- especially when your mandatory DNA test fails to come back 100pc feline -- but over time use your winning personality and powers of deception to convince them all of your 'hurling man' bona fides. Eventually, you will work your way up to the pivotal position of fixtures secretary. Then strike! Call a meeting; conveniently forget to invite your fellow members; then pass your own motion that -- henceforth -- the Kilkenny senior hurling championship will be run off as a weekend blitz in early May, thus freeing up all of summer to concentrate on a much-expanded Kilkenny senior football championship. Eureka!

STEP 4: Okay, so maybe the locals aren't won over straight away by the dubious charms of pig bladder ball. Despair not! We shall utilise Kilkenny man's innate disdain for this 'foreign' sport to actually wean him off small ball. Here's how. You have now climbed another rung of the Black-and-Amber political ladder to county secretary. Once again, you conveniently forget to issue any invites to Kilkenny's annual GAA (aka hurling, camogie and handball) convention. There, you unanimously support your own motion making it illegal for supporters to persist with their favourite local pastime -- the thrice-weekly jaunt to Nowlan Park for Kilkenny hurling training -- unless they attend an equal number of Kilkenny football sessions. They love their hurling but not that much ... the masses grudgingly stay at home to watch Fair City instead.

STEP 5: Now, courtesy of Step 4, Kilkenny are forced to train against the backdrop of a deserted Nowlan Park. Hopefully they will start to feel unloved, but will that make them any less happy with their lot? Perhaps not ... best then to invite noted hurling guru Justin McCarthy up for a few training sessions, which might prompt a sudden glut of wildcat strikes and/or premature retirements.

STEP 6: We're getting closer to the final and those pesky Cats won't take no for an answer. So then, use fair means or foul to ensure that their challengers aren't some new-age romantics who haven't lifted Liam MacCarthy for decades (there go Limerick and Waterford). Instead, our fellow finalists must be possessed by a native arrogance that's impervious to such trifling details as Kilkenny's four-in-a-row and counting. Now who could that be? Tipp, Tipp, Tipp!

STEP 7: You must act swiftly now, before our all-conquering crew board the team bus in the Marble City. Firstly, mug the kitman and replace all hurls with vuvuzelas -- once their warm-up starts, the resultant racket could induce temporary deafness among the entire squad. At the same time, surreptitiously place copies of 'Come What May' and 'The Stepford Wives' on each seat of the bus. The effect of this will be wholly unpredictable -- they might even mistake Tipp for Cork and hammer them by 27 points -- but we're getting desperate now.

STEP 8: During the warm-up, steal a section of the new Hill 16 fence and erect it in front of Brendan Cummins' goal (remembering, of course, to move it at half-time). Given the Croker bigwigs keep telling us that said fence doesn't impede visibility, our goal-hungry Cats surely won't notice until their 100mph shots start miraculously rebounding back into open play.

STEP 9: The throw-in. It's getting scary now. Only one thing for it, let's try and rattle Tommy Walsh's cage. Get the erstwhile Boy Wonder sent off in the very first minute. Oh, didn't someone try that before? And it didn't exactly work, did it? Darn!

STEP 10. Pray. Very. Very. Hard.


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