Monday 22 January 2018

Like Kerry in '82, the hype had a paralysing effect on Kilkenny

Paidi O Se

I DON'T think that anyone who hasn't experienced it, who hasn't actually been there, can understand the body-numbing impact of the Croke Park crucible that Kilkenny and Tipperary went into last Sunday.

But the pressure on Kilkenny, as I know from my own memories of 1982, would have been almost unbearable and would have brought about different reactions in the psyches and mindsets of the various players.

No two individuals are alike, and every man will react differently to the extraordinary furnace of hype, razzmatazz, and expectation that enveloped Kilkenny in the weeks leading up to the five-in-a-row match.

There were reports that crowds of over 8,000 attended Kilkenny training sessions in Nowlan Park, that the competitive hurling at the training matches was fiercer than anything actually seen on the field of play this year, and that people who had never watched a hurling match in their lives had overnight become fanatical Kilkenny supporters.

All this adds up to almost unbearable nervous tension, and there certainly was a nervousness about Kilkenny on the day and, like Kerry in 1982, some of them all but seized up.

RTE radio's News at One on Friday week last was live from St Kieran's College and this all added to the hype. If the match were played again on the following day, I have no doubt that there would have been a completely different result.

I, like any other member of the 1982 Kerry team, can identify totally with the impact of all this on the Kilkenny team's mental disposition. Kilkenny didn't hurl on the day and, to be fair to them, Tipperary did, and fully deserved to win unlike Offaly in 1982, who might have deserved a draw, but were certainly not emphatic winners.

If you look back at the winter, Kilkenny lost a few matches in the league, and this is not a good habit to get into. Form, no matter what the armchair generals say, is not a light bulb; you can't switch it on and off at will.

It's true that there are many players who seem untouched by the nervous tension after week upon week of such a build-up. But, for many, it can have a paralysing effect, and mind, muscle and nerve can seize up under the overwhelming pressure of it all. That is what seemed to happen to Kilkenny and it was what happened to Kerry 28 years ago.

But well done to Tipperary, who more than expunged the memory of last year's rub of bad luck.

It is my sad task to express my sympathy to my good friend Dr Micheál Fanning of Dingle and to the rest of his family on the death of his mother, Mrs Molly Fanning.

Molly was a great friend of my mother Beatrice and was a sister of one of the greatest of West Kerry footballers, Batt Garvey, who was a very important mentor of mine. May she rest in peace and take comfort from a lifetime on this earth doing good and doing her duty in rearing a fine family.

Similarly, my sympathy goes to my great Kerry colleague Eoin Liston on the death of his mother Noreen from Ballybunion. Noreen was another fine woman of the old stock and Eoin and the rest of the family are a credit to her.

Meanwhile, I am very much looking forward to Saturday week when the Kerry and Dublin teams of 25 years ago who contested a great All-Ireland final in 1985 resulting in a hard earned victory for ourselves will get together in Cassidy's, of Camden Street, Dublin (4.30-7.0). Brian Mullins and myself got together last week to discuss this unique event sponsored by the Sunday Independent, at which there will be plenty of camaraderie and a good share of music on the eve of the All-Ireland.

Sunday Independent

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