A DATE WITH DESTINY AWAITS FOR GALWAY HURLING
Most of us trooping out of Croke Park after Galway won the 1988 All-Ireland hurling final against Tipperary knew that the glory days wouldn’t last forever.
The Tribesmen had just put back-to-back titles together for the first time after appearing in four finals in a row.
You just knew the run of success wouldn’t keep going forever but with several underage titles in the bag little did we think that 27 years would pass and still no sign of another All-Ireland.
Galway appeared in seven out of ten finals between 1979 and 1988 and not only have we not won one since then, Sunday’s appearance will only be the sixth final appearance in 27 years.
When Galway ended the ‘famine’ in 1980, a gap of 57 years was bridged to their only success before then. We have now almost reached half the length of that barren period without a title.
It puts into perspective the burden which is being placed on these Galway hurlers on Sunday as they bid to bring the county’s fifth All-Ireland title back to west.
There is also the chance of winning the minor and senior titles for the first time ever in the same year.
A double win, or perhaps just the senior crown, could trigger another golden era for Galway hurling. I think we all know what a double defeat will do.
There is really something special about the way a county comes alive for an All-Ireland final. Even the likes of Kilkenny, or Kerry in football, still cover the place in their county colours despite being in the final so often.
Galway is awash with maroon and white, the whole county has been lifted, and victory on Sunday will spark wild celebrations.
We tend to forget it, but the recession of the 1980s was a lot easier to deal with in Galway because the hurlers were reaching the All-Ireland final so often.
WORLD CUP HOPES
The World Cup will be upon us in a couple of weeks and it’s hard to know where exactly Ireland stand.
Their back-to-back Six Nations crowns, along with their rise, briefly, to No 2 in the world has seen them installed as genuine World Cup contenders.
I interviewed Jake White, who led the Springboks to the title in 2007, recently in France where he is now coaching Montpellier, and he could see no reason why Ireland could not win the crown.
And this for a country which has never managed to get past the quarter-finals?
But, as White rightly pointed out, Ireland have a clearer pathway than most other contenders.
But we tend to forget that the two Six Nations crowns were won in such tight circumstances. It was great to see Ireland win from such nerve-tingling affairs and, in fairness, Joe Schmidt has a great ability to gear teams to come through such circumstances.
However, we saw on Saturday how tight things can be when going down to a Welsh side when a match-winning try was rightly ruled out by the television match official.
The result wasn’t vital but being bossed around at the breakdown like that was a wake-up call.
SIGHT/SOUND OF THE WEEK: Mayo’s recovery from seven points down in the closing stages of Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin.
THEY SAID IT: “I had problems at first, confusing ‘wine’ and ‘win’ and my players would laugh,” Rafa Benitez on the craic he had learning the language at Liverpool.
IT HAPPENED ON THIS DAY: 2nd September 1952: Tennis player Jimmy Connors was born in East St Louis in Illinois. He won eight majors, including Wimbledon in 1974 and ’82.
– See more at: https://web.archive.org/web/20150907223652/http://www.galwayindependent.com/sport/topics/articles/2015/09/02/4079366-sports-matters/#sthash.Zo2Vyn5N.dpuf