Saturday 24 March 2018

Munster hurling takes a back seat

Eamonn Sweeney

At some stage in today's game between Cork and Tipperary something moderately exciting will happen and a commentator and analyst will burble on about the unique magic of the Munster hurling championship and how the doubters have been answered.

It'll be nonsense. Because the shine has gone off the Munster hurling championship and it's never looked less interesting than it does as we head into the 2011 version. We've got the amazing situation where the Leinster hurling championship with three of the four genuine All-Ireland contenders in action looks far more intriguing than its more hallowed counterpart.

Leinster will feature five teams who played in Division 1 this year, Munster only three. Limerick and Clare are miles away from being the finished article, Cork are continuing a rebuilding programme which is taking on a Wembley Stadium feel, Waterford are getting the maximum out of limited resources and Tipp, on their day, would probably beat the pick of them.

I wouldn't write off the Rebels. They showed how unwise that is last year. But even if they were to tumble the All-Ireland champions today, what would it mean? Last year the exit of Tipp meant the Munster championship seemed oddly peripheral to the destination of the All-Ireland. Today the crowd will be big, the atmosphere will be great and the hurling may well be good but the match probably won't matter long term.

Perhaps the most telling thing of all is that this year there will be more interest in, and hype surrounding, the inevitable Cork-Kerry football final than there will be in any Munster hurling match. Who'd have thought it?

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