Experiencing the All Ireland Hurling Final

October 2nd, 2012
by Weeshie Fogarty

My sports editor requested my column should deal with last week's Kerry county championship program of matches. No problem there I thought and eagerly looked forward to attending the four games down for decision. However as they say "there was a spanner thrown into the works" which prevented my attending the game on Sunday between Austin Stacks and Dr Crokes. And boy wasn't I delighted that spanner landed in the works. My great friend Castleisland man Ger Keane, he is renowned for his work with Ger Hartman of Hartman International Sports Injury Clinic in Limerick invited me to join him and attend the All Ireland hurling final between Kilkenny and Galway. And what an awesome display by Kilkenny, they simply blew the opposition away in a display of power, wonderful skill, team work and that amazing never say die Kilkenny spirit.

And to cap for me what was a memorable day I had the privilege of being introduced to Henry Shefflin and Brian Cody at the team hotel the morning of the game. And one thing that struck me greatly as I chatted to these two legendary hurling men as they awaited the challenges of the  greatest sporting day in their lives was their sheer courtesy, pleasantness and giving of their time. It was very evident to me during the short conversation I had that big egos of any description would not be tolerated in this camp. I firmly believe that one of the big secrets of Kilkennys amazing success is the strict code of discipline in all areas in relation to ideas of "we are the greatest" which Cody instills into every single member of the panel. I chatted to Henry about his Lyreacrompane relatives and Brian Cody send best wishes to his great friend renowned Killarney publican Jimmy o Brien. They left the hotel, boarded their bus and for Shefflin GAA history beckoned and was achieved. Nine All Ireland medals won on the field of play and he played every second of those games.

And so to those county championship matches. The Dingle/ Feale Rangers game was easily my pick of the weekend action. It was a thrilling encounter with some superb passages of play and Dingle following a wonderful start, they led, 2-7 to 0-4 after twenty five minutes were very lucky to hold out and advance. Full forward Billy o Connor had two excellent goals which proved vital at the finish. It was evident that the club side settled much better than the divisional combination and as Rangers began to find their feet and combine much better following the interduction of Anthony Maher they threw everything but the proverbial kitchen sink at the Westerners. Connor Cox, a beautiful footballer kicked 1-8, Paul Galvin was outstanding as the fight back developed. Paddy Curtin blazed over with a goal on and eventually Dingle lifted the siege as Ryan Begley put them two points ahead as the final whistle sounded. Dingle are having a great year and will have a mighty battle with St Kieran's in the semi-final while Feale Rangers will feel and rightly so a win for them would have seen then go on and win the championship. Yes they were that good but that terrible start scuttled their chances.

I was very impressed by St Kieran's as they kicked a massive 1-21 defeating a much physically weaker Kenmare team at Fitzgerald's Stadium last Saturday. They looked a very well drilled and prepared side and it is very evident Martin Horgan has put in a massive amount of work into this divisional amalgamation. This result was never in doubt. Eamon John o Donoghue at full forward had a blinder, the target man helped himself to 1-5, and outside him the Walsh brothers from famed Knocknagoshel with Kieran Scanlon, Padraig Reidy, Maurice Hickey, Tom McGoldrick and Thomas Hickey were in flying form. Their semi-final clash with Dingle promises to be a cracker. Two sides well prepared, they play lovely open fast football. It's the old club verses division clash. A very difficult one to call, I won't be one bit surprised if Kieran's advance but the club side have the advantage, had a great win over Feale Rangers and should shade the verdict

Well you see something new in a game every day you go out, that's the great think about sport and when Kenmare's outstanding full forward Paul o Connor ran off the field and down the tunnel last Saturday following a disallowed goal it was indeed a rare occurrence. Paul was disgusted with the decision of referee Sean Joy for cancelling out his goal following a quick free. Now while it was and still is a big talking point the young Kenmare lad was feeling sorry for his actions when I chattered to him afterwards and while the young man had left his team short he had not insulted or assaulted anyone else so Paul's indiscretion had harmed no one but himself. In all my years watching the game I have never seen an incident such as this, however it made for great debate.

Rathmore stayed with Laune Rangers for forty minutes of their encounter but with the ever green and superb Michael Frank Russell, Pa Joy, Kieran Doona, Shane McSweeney, Peter Crowley, John Sheehan, and Jeremy o Callaghan improving greatly they raced away to a richly deserved win 3-13 to 2-4. Ranger's manager Joe Shanahan had a twinkle in his eye afterwards when he said that the other three teams remaining would love to have them as opponents. Well his side would appear to be the outsiders of the group and he knows full well that they are meeting one of the best club sides in the county in Dr Crokes. The Killarney side are most punters favourites to retain the championship. They have great spread of scorers, six men raised flags last Sunday and while Laune Rangers are great championship battlers this should be a bridge too far for them.

As I wrote earlier I did not see the Crokes/ Stacks game last Sunday however reports have stated and friends have told me it was a very unsavory encounter and one brief comment on this. The sooner the county board put the dug outs for subs and mentors OUTSIDE the wire in Tralee the sooner incidents at some games will not occur. It's a common sight in Austin Stack Park to see lines of people congregated together in front of the side line dug outs. In my own experience as a player, refere and commentator at this venue over many years many incidents are sparked of from clashes in front of these dug outs. It seems a very simple solution to me. Fitzgerald Stadium has this set up for a number of years and it's perfect.

Fogra: Our deepest sympathies to Mick o Dwyer on the death of his wife Mary Carmel and of course to the lads, John, Robbie, Haulie and Karl. A remarkable lady Mick always said she was his rock and without her his amazing achievements on the GAA front would never have occurred. I had the great privilege of being in Mary Carmel's company at a few functions/weddings and you would always come away feeling much better following time with her. Behind every great man is a greater person. Mary Carmel o Dwyer was that person.

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