This column would like to definitively say "i told you so" but when there might have been a preview to write last weekend it was otherwise engaged in a driving holiday through France. When Kilkenny were resting themselves in the final hours prior to battle, this writer was surveying the cliff top vista that arrested the American soldiers when they first set foot on the cloying sands of Omaha beach. As an aside Brian Cody would probably approve of the ascent of the hill as a training vehicle to bolster his troops ahead of the herculean task that will be next years Leinster Championship, with perhaps the reinstatement of the offending machine gun at the apex of the cliff, as an optional extra.
Still on returning from the continent it was a surprise to see the likes of Damien Lawlor, James O' Connor and Nicky English ( john Aleen could be forgiven for letting his place of birth blind his convictions ) either plump for Cork or give them a very sporting chance. If our declarations post match might be seen to be a tad pompous ( even more than usual ) then a polite direction might be made towards our column after the Leinster final, where we mused whether hurling's travails might be best treated by splitting Kilkenny in two. Indeed with Russian troops currently bombarding Gorey perhaps they could be prevailed upon to engage in some border re-drawing to the west. Short of this it might be as well for hurling followers to realign themselves towards the facts on the ground, which have been in denial about for the last few years. Kilkenny's uncharacteristic profligate shooting in the semi and final of 2006 took a little of the sheen away from their powerhouse performances. Last year the fact that a two in a row was annexed without tackling Cork, Waterford and Tipperary led to the mistaken belief that significantly mpre exacting tests could have been placed before them. It was also forgotten that Galway's nine point defeat came despite tracer like point taking from the Tribesman's forwards. Cork actually gave forth their most comprehensive display of the summer last Sunday. And if their efforts seemed to lack the pyrotechnic heights of the respective second halves in the qualifiers, factor in that Kilkenny arent well disposed to offering planning permission to fireworks displays.
It is certainly still possible that anything can happen over seventy minutes and that both Tipp and Waterford have the ammunition to pierce the only area of the cats armoury that looks semi-permeable. ( the corner backs ) But if the noresiders are to be defeated it is unlikely to be due now to any insufficiency in appetite, with Martin Comerford the only stalwart whose petrol tank seems appreciably diminished by miles on the clock. In our partly knock out system an off-day can lead to theories being formed that aren't easily disabused. But although many eyes might have glazed over Eoin Larkins's goal in the first half, the breathtaking quality of the performance over 70 minutes should have furthered franked, to those who have eyes to see, that we were watching the greatest side of the modern era.