Brian Barry compiles his top five moments in what was an historic year for hurling.
5: Kilkenny v Tipperary
A July evening in Nowlan Park was the setting for the clash of hurling’s two heavyweights. Knockout hurling against each other was unfamiliar territory for both sides at such an early stage in the summer. What ensued was a classic. Paul Murphy was immense for Kiklenny, while Lar Corbett ran the show until he limped off injured. He was jeered off the pitch by the home crowd, a far cry from the sportsmanship shown by the Tipperary supporters in the 2010 All-Ireland when Henry Shefflin was forced ashore. Mind you, when ‘The King’ made his return in the second half, the roar was something special. Kilkenny won a great game of hurling, and it is well deserving of its spot at number 5.
4: Waterford Minors Seize All-Ireland Title
Waterford finished the season at senior level in respectable fashion, going down to Kilkenny in extra time in Thurles. Nonetheless, they would finish bottom of any Munster ‘Power-Rankings.’ The insistence of John Mullane that he will not be returning to the fold next year would spell a bleak winter for Waterford hurling fans were it not for the emergence of a young generation at minor level. They eventually lost out to Limerick in the Munster final at the second time of asking, before beating Antrim and Kilkenny to find their way to the September showdown. Limerick unfairly exited due to an error with the Hawk-Eye in the other semi-final, but Waterford must be credited with beating whoever was in front of them. The celebrations after the match showed how much it meant to the county as a whole.
3: Dublin win Leinster
52 years. The Dublin hurlers have been bridging numerous gaps in recent years, but winning their first Leinster Championship since 1961 will be remembered for years to come. If this team goes on to win an All-Ireland, 2013 will go down as the year they started to be taken seriously at championship level. The road to the Bob O’Keeffe Cup started slowly however, with a lacklustre draw with Wexford in Wexford Park, before eventually overcoming the Yellow-Bellies a week later at Parnell. Things started to click for Anthony Daly’s charges after that, beating Kilkenny on the second attempt also. By the time the final rolled around, Galway had no answer to the momentum which the Dubs had gained over their five consecutive weeks. Dublin hurling is here to stay.
2: Clare Capture Liam McCarthy
The Banner won one of the great All-Ireland finals in dramatic fashion, having taken a relatively low-key path to the showdown in September. The two games had it all, except possibly for some suspect defending. Davy Fitzgerald’s young side delivered the goods prematurely, and in fairness were full value for their win. Darach Honan’s last minute goal drew to a close what was probably the greatest All-Ireland Championship ever. Cork may not quite have hit the heights, in the final, of their semi-final win over Dublin, but Clare displayed serious nerve, both in the drawn game to equalise, and in the replay to fight off the Cork come-back.
1: Mount Leinster Rangers
Story of the year. It wasn’t in a packed Croke Park in front of 82,000 people. It was a winter’s day in Nowlan Park. Mount Leinster became the first Carlow club ever to lift the senior provincial honour. Few fancied them to overcome Ballyboden, All-Ireland 7s champions, in the semi-final. And even after their victory over the South-Dublin outfit, a stern challenge against Oulart-The Ballagh lay ahead. It was the stuff of dreams; David versus Goliath. Mount Leinster won the game 0-11 to 0-08. But it was more than just winning a game. It was a win for the sport.
A Cork delegate, John Corcoran, slammed Carlow hurling a few weeks ago for suggesting that the Rebels should not, and rightfully so, compete in Division 1B next year. Corcoran stated “For somebody from Carlow to be lecturing Cork on hurling is akin to Jedward telling Pavarotti how to sing.” This isn’t the mindset needed for the game to grow in the ‘weaker’ counties. The mindset that is needed is a belief like how Mount Leinster Rangers believed they could win a provincial crown. There is no room for the likes of Corcoran in hurling. Elitism is not the way forward. The sport in Carlow is on the rise, and best of luck to Mount Leinster in the All-Ireland series.
– Limerick winning the Munster Title.
– Laois reaching the Leinster Minor Final.
– Antrim beating Leinster Champions, Wexford, to reach the All-Ireland U21 Final.
Brian Barry. Pundit Arena
Read More About: Top Story