Food for Thought After Hurling Countback

Six days after beating Kilkenny in Nowlan Park Galway exited the All Ireland Championship after defeat to Dublin in a packed and lively Parnell Park.

They went out because of Lee Chin’s late equaliser against that same Kilkenny team in injury time of their encounter. That was the score that meant it was the Yellowbellies that swapped exit for elation, despite only having beaten Carlow in the Leinster Championship Round Robin.

It was the first time in history that a team had been knocked out of the All Ireland on score difference and was followed by Clare suffering the same fate less than 24 hours later.

Draws in hurling, where there is traditionally such high scoring, have tended to be a rarity though in recent years that has become much more common.

There were the three in this year’s Leinster Championship.  Three All Ireland finals this decade, in 2012, 2013 and 2014 have gone to replays.

Last year there were three draws in the Munster Championship, a drawn Leinster Final and a drawn All Ireland Semi Final.

All of a sudden it’s not such a rarity anymore and while it undoubtedly adds to the drama of the Championship it is still, on the day a disappointing result.  I have been in Croke Park for All Ireland Final’s that have been drawn and when the final whistle was blown there was a real sense of anti-climax.  Sure it gives way to a sense that ‘nobody deserved to lose’ and that we could go again but still sport at the highest level is about winning and nobody goes into a game wanting to draw.

In 1981 the English Football League introduced three points for a win instead of two, in a bid to greater reward teams who went out to play to win.  It has become the standard across football around the world and many other sports as well.

It made a difference in that Blackburn and Real Madrid won League titles they would not otherwise have if it had stayed at two points for a win.

More importantly in the context of the 2019 Hurling season, it would have meant that Galway rather than Wexford would have progressed from Leinster and that the Leinster Final would have been between Kilkenny and Dublin.

Clare would still have been eliminated from Munster so history would still have been made but in a different place and a different context.

It’s all immaterial, everyone knew the rules but it is another bucket of salt to rub on Galway’s would at having had their summer brought to such a rapid end.

 


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