Driving back on the M7 from Thurles on Saturday night we nearly ran out of petrol. It was gone half 10 and there are no service stations between Cork and Dublin on the shiny new motorway. Anyway we ventured off at Portlaoise and crept through the ghost town. There it was. A Topaz station! Luckily we got to fill up the tank; otherwise a night celebrating the Deise’s win in foreign lands could have been on the cards. At least Laois wear the blue and white of the Deise.
Anyway, talking about last minute salvation, Dan the Man did it in spectacular style last night. I still can’t believe the sliotar ended up in the net. It looked like he hit it softly enough and that it would either go wide or Cusack would save it. But somehow it skidded along the wet grass into the corner of the net. Unreal. Waterford won their 9th Munster title and definitely one of their hardest fought.
We’ve had cracking games with Cork over the years but it’s hard to remember a tighter victory. Every ball was contested. No player had time to think once they got near the ball. The skill they have in being able to get the sliotar on the hurl at lightning speed when you’ve two guys shouldering and hussling you is amazing.
Some of the scores from Eoin Kelly were great. Real pressure stuff. But John Mullane had the score of the game. We take Mullane’s scores for granted now – either he has his back to goal and flicks over his shoulder, or else he’s charging down the sideline and it’s it over from an acute angle.
Given last week’s ugly events in Croke Park, the stadium officials were keen to ensure that no supporters entered the “Field of Legends” (wonder if Man Utd are suing, as sounds similar to Theatre of Dreams in Old Trafford). Anyway despite the best efforts of the stadium announcer, kids broke loose over the barriers and the high vis stewards couldn’t do much (or didn’t try much) and just watched as the field filled up. The real legends were mobbed.
I really think the GAA is powerless to stop this. They can tell people to stay off the pitch, but that’s meaningless if people decide to invade. Without putting up serious fences or barriers, people will stream onto the pitch. Why don’t people realise they don’t need to do this? All this crap about GAA tradition is hard to take. No other sport feels the need to swamp the field after a match. But it starts with fans and given that parents are following kids on, it doesn’t sound encouraging. I don’t want to scaremonger but eventually somebody will be trampled by a mob (chasing a referee maybe!).
Thurles is an anomaly. It ranks along places such as Clones, where you’d never find yourself if it wasn’t for a match. I must have been there every year for the past 6 or 7 years. The atmosphere it great – the main square full of the colours of opposing sides. The pubs, chippers and supermarkets are jammed. We ended up in classy pub where the main drinks on offer were: Bulmers cans, a fridge full of W!cked and various bottles of things called Shotz. A long way from D4 – lucky that the Dubs don’t have to come down the country too much.
Roll on the semi-final in Croke Park on 15th August – we’ll be in Scotland, but will definitely take a break from the Highland Games to roar on the Deise boys.
P.S. Yes in case you noticed I’m a hypocrite on multiple levels. Despite my rant on pitch invasions, I joined the posse on the pitch. If ya can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.