It is one of the marquee days of the Irish sporting calendar and yesterday’s All Ireland Hurling Final lived up to it’s billing.
It had everything from dynastic storylines and intense rivalry between two of the three most successful teams in the history of the sport, but both of whom were gone last year before the semi-final stage and neither of whom had won their Provincial Championship.
For the second year in a row, it was a team backed by the financial muscle of a wealthy and passionate individual that came through, and similar to JP McManus’s shout out from Declan Hannon in 2018, Declan Kelly was praised for his support, through Teneo, by Seamus Callanan from the steps of the Hogan Stand.
The speed and skill in hurling at present seems to be at a higher level than ever before and the fact that only Limerick of last year’s semi-finalists made it back to that level bodes well for the level of competitiveness among the top counties.
The TV figures will be with us later today and while the closer scoreboard of 2018 might see the number dip a little on what we saw last year it will still come in as one of the biggest TV audiences of the year.
Among the many narratives to come out of the day, the sending off of Richie Hogan just before half time is one of those that stands out.
It was a tough call by referee James Owens but on balance the right one given the rules of the game.
One element of the discussion though is one that is currently being echoed across the water in the English Premier League, that of video ‘evidence’ being broadcast within the stadium.
The 800,000 watching at home will have been treated to endless slow-motion replays of the incident but in Croke Park, there was no playback.
This is the same in the Premier League where VAR decisions are just waited on with no public evidence or explanation. If you can see it, you can believe it and the argument that it would only raise tension among fans in the crowd is countered by the tension that now exists from feeling as though you have been wronged without the call being seen.
We have so much detailed information available to fans in the ground now from the number of scoring chances to the number of puck outs won but not being afraid to re-show those contentious issues is one that perhaps should be reconsidered.
Anyway it was a great end to another great season of hurling and with a number of the Tipperary stars from yesterday back again for the final of the Bord Gáis Energy U20 Final next weekend there will be another burst of interest before we move into the PwC All Stars debate and the return to the AIB All Ireland Club Championship scene.
The beauty of sport is that win or lose there is always more to come just around the corner.
Congratulations to Liam Sheedy and his Tipperary team. Commiserations to Brian Cody and Kilkenny. It all starts again from scratch on the training grounds in a couple of months time.
Image credit: Tommy Dickson, Inpho.ie