Sport Hurling

Friday 15 December 2017

Martin Breheny: Moore's frosty forecast a boon for rebels and cats

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

So Old Moore's Almanac was right, correctly predicting that January would deliver heavy and sustained snow as opposed to the light, brief dustings which have been the norm for several years.

It was a perceptive start to 2010 by the great sage, one which adds to the intrigue of his other forecasts. He anticipates that, in soccer, Spain will win the World Cup, that Kauto Star will retain the Cheltenham Gold Cup and that Tiger Woods will win the US Masters, although one suspects that last prognosis was made before the startling revelations from Tiger-land.

The good news on the weather front is that Old Moore is predicting a really good summer. As for Gaelic Games, he sees Kilkenny completing the All-Ireland hurling five-in-a-row and Cork winning the football title.

Now, that won't be enough to convince Brian Cody and Conor Counihan to throttle back on the training but they can at least savour the feeling that the spirit of Old Moore, the country's oldest forecaster, is behind them.

Kilkenny have the coincidence card in their favour too. Not since 1963 has Ireland last shivered so much and yes, Kilkenny won the All-Ireland title that year. And there's more.

Prior to the big freeze 47 years ago, the previous worst winter was in 1947 (note the similar digits), a year in which Kilkenny also won the All-Ireland title. So between coincidence and the support of Theophilus Moore, Kilkenny face the season with the comforting thought that their historic five-in-a-row bid is backed by a combination of forces.

Bitter

If the 1963 experience is replicated this year, there's good news for Dublin footballers too. And God knows they need it after the many bitter experiences of the last decade.

A punched goal by Gerry Davey edged Dublin to a 1-9 to 0-10 win over Galway in the All-Ireland final that year. It was disappointing for Galway but better times were ahead as they won the next three titles.

Then, as now, Kerry started the year as All-Ireland champions, having won the 1962 final, and duly retained the Munster title in 1963 before losing to Galway in a semi-final. Down won the Ulster title for the fourth time in five seasons, and while they lost heavily to Dublin, their consistency in Ulster -- they shared all the provincial titles in a 6-4 split with Cavan in the 1960s -- was in marked contrast to their record nowadays.

Surprisingly, Down haven't won the Ulster title since 1994; nor have they prospered in the All-Ireland qualifiers, yet there's a sense that there could be meaningful stirrings in the undergrowth. They're 12/1 sixth favourites behind Tyrone, Monaghan, Derry, Donegal and Armagh for this year's title which looks quite interesting, even if they must travel to Ballybofey for their opening encounter with Donegal.

New manager James McCartan will bring a fresh impetus to the scene so Down could be worth watching. All the more so, of course, if the 1963 trends are repeated!

Waterford hurlers came close to breaking the All-Ireland barrier in the last decade, but none of their defeats were as frustrating as the one suffered against Kilkenny in the 1963 All-Ireland final, when they scored 6-8 in a 60-minute game and still lost by three points.

So then how much of 1963 will be replicated this year? Will it be a Kilkenny-Dublin All-Ireland double? Will both of them win their respective provincial titles and will Galway, Kerry and Down (football) and Waterford (hurling) do likewise? The accumulated odds on all those results are around 4,700/1 so there won't be many takers.

Still, history has a funny habit of repeating itself. Indeed, the 1963 trend has already started with the weather so don't say you weren't tipped off if the GAA results start rolling in on a similar vein later in the year.

Anonymous hurlers add to jersey debate

IT seems there's growing concern in the GAA over the lack of recognition enjoyed by even top hurlers because their faces are masked by helmets. So much so that there are suggestions that names should adorn jerseys and/or helmets.

It's worth considering, although county boards might object to the cost of personalised jerseys. But there's an even more pressing issue in both hurling and football which, for some inexplicable reason, is not being taken on by the GAA authorities.

The numbering on many inter-county jerseys, especially those featuring hoops, is very often illegible to spectators. That's certainly the case from the upper tier in Croke Park which is a long way from the playing area.

Jersey numbering was introduced as an aid to spectators so why won't counties ensure that it's clear and uncluttered so that the paying public can easily identify the players? Since county boards don't seem to give a damn about it, why hasn't Croke Park taken action?

Extensive regulations apply to the presentation of games and carry punishments for violations, yet they don't include legible numbering on jerseys. Any chance the GAA authorities might demand it for 2010?

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