Munster champions victims of their success in current hurling system
At Croke Park on Sunday, I witnessed the most exciting game I've ever watched as a neutral. Galway were magnificent and an absolute joy to watch at times. Even so, though they lost a classic to a last-second winner, it has to said that Tipperary were under par.
Galway won the battles all over the field, and in midfield especially. If not for a performance for the ages by Seamus Callanan (right), Tipp would have been put to the sword a lot earlier.
Were Eamon O'Shea's team at the right pitch in just their third championship game of the season, and after a five-week wait since the Munster final?
It's the fourth year in a row the Munster champions have lost their next game, and, amazingly, only Tipp in 2009 and 2011 have done it in the last nine years.
It's easy to point at Kilkenny as being in the same boat in Leinster, but, as always, they're the exception that proves the rule. Of the last four Leinster champions that weren't Kilkenny, only Galway in 2012 won their semi-final.
But even Kilkenny appear unhappy with the current system. Hurler of the Year Richie Hogan spoke to us on Off The Ball last week and told us he "hates" it.
"I'd rather have a match every two weeks. If I had the choice, I'd love to play six or seven games at least in championship."
Kilkenny have overcome the problems, but surely we can accept there's a disadvantage there for the team who wins the provincial title, and that's a real problem. Galway came into last Sunday's semi-final having played five games, Tipperary two. There's something seriously wrong with that. We can't keep ignoring a clear pattern.
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