Wednesday 17 January 2018

Who saw these coming?

Kilkenny are 1/7 favourites to beat Cork (5/1) on Sunday, but hurling history is strewn with examples of how big upsets arrived in the least expected circumstances.

2005 -- All-Ireland semi-final Galway 5-18 Kilkenny 4-18

Kilkenny beat Galway by 19 points in the 2004 All-Ireland qualifiers and while they lost the final to Cork, they seemed to be comfortably back on track after beating Offaly, Wexford and Limerick in the 2005 championship. However, Galway blitzed Kilkenny in the third quarter to open up a 5-17 to 3-12 lead. Kilkenny battled back, but Galway held on for a second win over the Black and Amber in four years. They were the only county to beat Kilkenny twice in the championship in the last decade.

2004 -- Leinster semi-final Wexford 2-15 Kilkenny 1-16

All-Ireland champions in 2000, '02 and '03, Kilkenny seemed set to remain on target for the treble via the 'front door'. However, as in 1976 and 1984, when Kilkenny were also on a three-in-a-row pursuit, Wexford intervened, with a late goal by Mick Jacob (below) snatching victory. Unlike 1976 and 1984, Kilkenny were able to re-mount via the qualifiers and reached the final against Cork. It was always going to be a tough game for them, but nobody could have foreseen that Kilkenny would score just two points in the second half -- both from placed balls -- and lose by eight points.

1989 -- All-Ireland semi-final Antrim 4-15

Offaly 1-15

Offaly, winners of two All-Ireland and six Leinster titles in the 1980s were 1/6 pre-match favourites to beat Antrim (4/1). The odds on an upset were even longer when Offaly led by 1-10 to 1-6 at half-time, but a devastating final quarter performance saw Antrim, for whom Aidan McCarry scored 2-4 and Olcan McFetridge 2-3, stunned Offaly into submission.

1979 -- All-Ireland semi-final Galway 2-13 Cork 1-12

Cork were chasing a fourth successive All-Ireland title, having won five Munster titles in a row. They were seeking a 13th successive championship win, while Galway had beaten only Antrim and Laois in the SHC over the previous three seasons. Galway had also lost the NHL final to Tipperary by 16 points three months earlier.

Easy for Cork? Not at all. A powerful Galway effort ended Cork's All-Ireland reign.

1976 -- Leinster final

Wexford 2-20 Kilkenny 1-6

Kilkenny had won three of the four previous All-Ireland titles and felt that they would have won in 1973 too only for a spate of injuries weakened them against Limerick. In 1976, they were reigning NHL champions and were bidding for a sixth successive Leinster title.

Surely nothing could go wrong.

Really? Wexford inflicted Kilkenny's biggest Leinster final defeat since the 1890s.

"Wexford hurled us off the pitch and halfway up Jones's Road," said Brian Cody, the then Kilkenny left corner-back.

Irish Independent

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