Credit; John Condon Donal White
The intensity! The work rate! The energy, electricity, and the high voltage!
The Tipperary County final didn’t quite hit the spot until we were treated to the longest and greatest ruck in hurling history, at the death of the battle for the Premier throne.
This glorious passage began at 62:40 on the match clock.
Like a murmuration of starlings before migration, the group swarmed and turned, coursed from side to side, condensing and dissipating, renewing the proud tradition of hurling in its home county.
The skills of hurling from yesteryear were not to the forefront in this ruck-of-the-ages. We didn’t see a ball struck, controlled, passed, or even significantly moved.
But we were treated to something far more sublime than those anciently outdated Celtic skills.
We saw bodies on the line. We saw serious athletes hit a mass of bodies in a way that will have Andy Farrell reassess his front row options in the spring.
We saw pushing, shoving, and the finest example of hurling “physicality” one will see this side of the Shannon.
We saw roll-lifts! Well, more like attempted roll-lifts, and there were too many to count.
This was the latest encouraging sign of hurling’s beautiful evolution into “hurling 2.0”, as dubbed by our finest experts on RTE.
The modern hurling ruck is the latest and greatest species in the evolution of this sport. Sunday presented us with the alpha of the species: 20 players crouched scrambling for almost half a minute to get the ball in their hand.
No one dared to actually pull on the ball, as recent history has shown that to be a yellow card offense – if you’re lucky.
And anyway, why play this little ball away when you can run with it in your hand! And take as many steps as the atmosphere of the day demands.
With the ball in your hand, there is always a chance the referee will punish you for over-carrying, giving a free to one of the surrounding horde of zombie defenders and their outstretched arms, but that is a risk worth taking.
The risk is even more worthwhile if you flail your arms wildly while trying to escape with possession.
So let’s dampen the calls to actually look at what’s happening in our national sport. Suspend your disbelief and join in the fun.
After all, what’s the best thing about the circus? – it’s intense.