Friday 15 November 2019

Final glosses over a crisis

John Greene

There is every reason to think -- and hope -- that today's All-Ireland hurling final between Tipperary and Kilkenny will be a classic. The last two finals between them have been memorable for different reasons and the entire hurling year has been building up to this one game. There is a lot riding on it.

And therein lies the problem with the hurling championship. Year after year it relies on the final to paper over the cracks of what has gone before. With the exception of Dublin's win in the league final, and their quarter-final win over Limerick, can anyone really say that anything meaningful has happened in hurling this year?

It is not just that there are two teams head and shoulders above the rest -- it is that with the exception of Dublin there does not seem to be any challenge looming on the horizon to the supremacy of Tipperary and Kilkenny.

Cork have a new manager but still look a long way off the big two; Limerick had a good year, but only in the context of what has gone before; Galway are -- and there's no nice of saying this -- the basket case of hurling right now; and Waterford have lost their ranking as third-best team in the country to Dublin. The rest are also-rans.

Tinkering with the league won't solve the problem. And a great final today won't cover it up. It's time to take meaningful action -- which should begin with a complete overhaul of the championship, including the abolition of the provincial championships. After all, one game, no matter how great, is not enough.

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