Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Is Tipperary hurling like a shark?

......Or indeed a relationship. At the end of his film Annie Hall Woody Allen claimed that a relationship was like a shark: If it doesn't keep going forward it dies. Woody's ghost came whispering to mind this week when considering the put -upon Premier forces in the aftermath of their defeat to Cork. In fact the comparison was summoned a few weeks ago. Then a Tipperary minor team that had been defeated in a high scoring jamboree with Cork ( am I being mischievous to think that de paper down south gets overly excited about such jousts ) gave a pallid display in a qualifier against Clare in Ennis. On the night it occurred that the Tipp hurling psyche rails against having to navigate the Championship other than through the front door. The quite hysterical media reaction amongst old Tipperary sweats to the reverse in the Munster quarter final only seems to confirm this impression. One of the interesting features of logging on to hurling chat rooms in recent years is to notice how Tipperary fans see themselves: A clue; it isn't that they rank the county as being equivalent in the hurling firmament to say, Offaly, a county that have won an equal number of senior All-Ireland's in the last 45 years. The counties that might be seen to be in the mid-rank of hurling powers ( Clare, Wexford, Limerick etc ) are somewhat haughtily viewed from a height. Conversely the windmills of Cork and Kilkenny are tilted at with a righteous determination, even though those two counties have disappeared into the distance on the honours board in recent years.

If you've missed it, all hell broke loose in Tipperary this week. Michael Cleary wondered whether the modern player are enjoying their lot. He also advocated a return to the sudden death format, obviously wanting this years squad put out of their misery. County board President Tommy Barrett almost invoked every Tipperary hero from the ages bar Charles Kickham as he preached a back to basics philosophy. And as for Babs Keating: Well our hero is always one to stand out from the 'flock' when criticising his inferiors, especially Liam Sheedy. He suggested that things would have been better for Sheedy if he had sat down with Babs to talk through a few things. So it appears that what Tipperary hurling requires is less 'development squads' and more 'Council of States'. Of course the rich irony in all this is that Tipp were smited not by a team direct from 'hells kitchen' but by one that has railed against all antediluvian hurling practices and want only modern training methods and preparation.

The record book tells us that this Tipp team was neck and neck with a side going for four in a row less than nine months ago. It's a long summer and even last Sunday's display would likely see them getting to a quarter-final at least. But it will need very strong and blinkered ( in a good way ) management for Tipperary to fulfill their potential in 2010: Now that the Pandora's box of a hurling culture with delusions of grandeur has been opened.

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