For a hurling season that has disappointed overall, there have still been some iconic moments which have typified what the GAA is all about. Here, we rank the top five.
5. Wexford’s Day Of Delight
July the 9th. Semple Stadium, Thurles. Wexford’s day of delight. Not since 1956 had Wexford beaten Cork in the championship. Both teams went in to the clash on a relatively poor run of form. However, Wexford produced a fantastic performace to see off the Rebels, in what was a huge win for the Slaneysiders.
Liam Dunne’s charges, lead by the inspirational duo of Conor McDonald and Lee Chin, showed heart, courage and hurling ability to see off the challenge of the Rebels in Thurles.
4. McGrath Family’s Moment In Limerick
The picture says it all. Three happy men, Three brothers, all after claiming Munster titles. Youngest brother Brian captained the minors to a facile win over Limerick while senior stars Noel and John had a day to remember too. John managed to net a remarkable hat-trick in his first Munster senior final. He was helped in doing so, by a class act of sportsmanship from teammate Seamus Callanan. Callanan allowed the 22 year-old to take a penalty, which in turn gave McGrath his hat-trick.
After missing out on last year’s Munster campaign due to illness, older brother Noel returned to play a pivotal part in Tipp’s dismantling of the Déise. A truly special day for all the McGrath family.
3. Davy Determination and Canning Class
Galway faced Clare in this year’s All-Ireland quarter-final, in what was an intriguing clash. Much was made of the amount of criticism labelled at Galway following their Leinster final defeat to Kilkenny. The criticism was certainly over the top. There was another distraction in the build up to the clash with Davy Fitzgerald suffering health problems. It was feared that he wouldn’t be on the sideline to lead the Banner men. However, Davy showed remarkable grit and determination to make it to the sideline, despite it maybe not being the best idea.
After Galway won the match, Joe Canning gave a touching, inspiring and classy interview. Canning mentioned the fact that sport is not the be all and end all and that “our health is our wealth.”
“There are more important things in life than sport” – Joe Canninghttps://t.co/mmTFkdo0gt
— RTÉ GAA (@RTEgaa) July 24, 2016
2. Saturday Night Semple Showdown
After Kilkenny and Waterford played out a thrilling draw at Croke Park, many were expecting a dull replay. However, it was nothing but dull. The only thing that was dark was the sky above Semple Satdium but the Thurles lights and the thrilling hurling certainly outshone the dark sky. Everything that was good about hurling was on show. Austin Gleeson gave one of the best displays of hurling given in years. The likes of Richie Hogan, Michael Fennelly and TJ Reid stood up and were counted for Kilkenny. Fennelly described the game as one of the best he has played in.
There was heartbreak for Waterford and Pauric Mahony in particular. There was sheer elation for Cody and Kilkenny. It was a real championship thriller.
1.Heartwarming Post-Match Moment Between Kilkenny Fan and Pauric Mahony
Sheer heartbreak for Pauric Mahony. A matter of inches meant Waterford were denied extra-time. Pauric Mahony’s last ditch opportunity was saved from over the crossbar by Kilkenny keeper Eoin Murphy. Mahony was left distraught after the game. The Ballygunner man lay on the Thurles turf with his hands over his head, before Kilkenny supporter Jennifer Malone ran over to console him.
During the week, it was revealed that Mahony sent his jersey along with a signed hurley to Malone. A gesture which sums up the GAA as a tight-knit and generous community.
Some special, special moments here. The GAA never fails to disappoint.
Seán Ó Murchú, Pundit Arena