Noel Dundon writes about his greatest Premier occasion of them all.
The Festive Season always paves the way for the opportunity to discuss Gaelic Games with family and friends, especially with the amount of sitting around usually associated with the holidays.
And, with games more or less limited now to the final stages of the u21 championships, conversation could run dry fairly soon if there were not other topics to chew the fat over.
Thankfully, when it comes to GAA, there always are. From the counting crux following the vote for the position of Vice Chairman of the County Board; to the seeming runaway nature of costs associated with the preparing of teams for the championships; to the various motions which occupied the minds of delegates at the County Convention – primarily the handpass rule , it has to be said – there is always plenty to chat about.
But, one topic which is always certain to garner divergent viewpoints is outlining the most memorable GAA game attended. Now there is a vault of emotion rendering memories which will certainly result in opinions being fired in all directions.
Of course depending on the range of generations in the conversation, there will be varying eras mentioned. From the 1949 Munster Final replay which saw a young breakthrough Tipperary team led by Pat Stakelum defeat Cork after a replay and extra time; to a similar scenario in 1987 in Killarney when Stakelum’s nephew Richard was the captain as Babs Keating’s Tipperary put an stop to a dominant Rebel era to end the ‘Famine.’
The All-Ireland Famine would have to wait until 1989 and others put stór on that particular game when Antrim were treated to an ‘English lesson’ with Nicky bagging 2-12 for himself to set a new scoring record in an All-Ireland Final. Not a particularly good game at all, but the bridging of the eighteen year hiatus was indeed significant and worthy of note when it comes to name checking great occasions.
The All-Ireland Final of 2010 would also have to come into the reckoning. Remember that game as the one where Tipperary scuppered Kilkenny’s so-called Drive for Five and given that Liam Sheedy’s men were given little enough hope in the lead-up to the match, it ended up being the perfect Premier storm.
Following that game, Kilkenny Manager Brian Cody would admit to having been worried about the level of focus and noise which surrounded his camp in the weeks leading up to the match. Henry Shefflin had that cruciate problem and the press interest in his condition was relentless. And, the history makers in waiting were having to turn away crowds of biblical proportions from Nowlan Park as they attempted to train.
Meanwhile, Liam Sheedy and his men went about their business with a quiet determination and razor like focus which carried right the way through to the game. And, what a game – Lar Corbett bagged three goals and Liam MacCarthy returned home across the border for the first time since 2001.
Younger generations pointed to last years All-Ireland minor hurling final – it was the finale which really sealed it as a classic, from a Tipp perspective at least. Paddy McCormack’s last gasp goal robbed Offaly of the Irish Press Cup and Tipperary danced a jig of joy in no less a venue than Nowlan Park – we haven’t danced there too often apart maybe from a Rod Steward concert!!
For me though, it had to be Killarney ‘87 and that epic Munster Final which had so many sub plots that it could well be turned into a Netflix mini series. The Tipp cheer when the normally deadly accurate John Fenton missed a Cork free; Nicky English’s brilliant goal after Bobby Ryan let the ball through his legs to him; the two goals from Mikey Doyle; Colm Bonnar levelling Johnny Crowley; English with that handpassed point to level the game in normal time. These and so many other moments paved the way for an unforgettable experience which re-energised Premier hurling passion and introduced a new generation to Tipperary winning ways.
Watch out for next weeks The View with more GAA news and views from Tipperary.
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