A busy weekend has just occurred in the hurling championship with Cork crowned Munster champions for the 53rd time and the earliest elimination from the championship for Kilkenny since 1996.
CORK ARE BACK
Cork won their 53rd Munster championship in a packed Thurles on Sunday afternoon. A year ago, things looked as bleak as it ever had been for Cork hurling. Knocked out without a whimper against Tipp in Munster and then KO’d in the championship by Wexford in a lacklustre display. However, they did finish second in 1A before being beaten by Limerick in the league QF’s, so the signs were positive heading into the championship. I don’t think anybody could predict that they would end the year as Munster Champions! At the moment, there the best team to watch and the youngsters that have been introduced such as Shane Kingston and in my opinion the leading candidate for young hurler of the year Mark Coleman have reinvigorated the rest of the panel. A conveyor belt seemingly is now starting with the minor’s winning the Munster championship by 19 points as well as a strong U21 side, the future for Cork hurling is looking bright.
WATERFORD END THE KILKENNY ERA
It really felt like the end of an era on Saturday evening. The first time under the Cody regime that Kilkenny will not be facing into at least an All-Ireland QF. It was like an old boxer who refuses to give in, the fight was there but the quality they once possessed is not there anymore. A rebuilding job is required in Kilkenny but with the recent success at underage for Kilkenny, you would imagine it will not take long before the cats are back challenging again. The one question is, will Brian Cody remain at the helm during the transition phase?
TIPP FIND RUTHLESS STREAK
Questions were asked of the All-Ireland champions which they certainly answered in their demolition job of Dublin on Saturday. Seamus Callanan started even though rumours were rife that he was about to be dropped. Callanan re-payed the faith to Mick Ryan by scoring a massive 3-11 with 3-4 from play. Likewise, John McGrath and John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer tormented Dublin while Pádraic Maher played in deep and was the architect to many of Tipp’s scoring chances. Dublin were poor so it’s hard to really know where Tipp are until the Clare game but still a huge improvement on the Westmeath victory and a marker laid down.
It’s been a tough year for Dublin hurling. Relegation from 1A has been followed by a disappointing championship campaign. It’s been a year of discontent and rumours coming out of the camp with current and former players showing their discontent with the current management of Ger Cunningham. The Schute brothers and Danny Sutcliffe are among some of the players who have opted out of the Dublin panel and their quality and experience which Dublin sorely lack now. Cunningham’s tenure is now complete and will certainly not be returned for next year. It is now vital that the Dublin county board get the next appointment right, and try get Dublin back to a level they were under Anthony Daly. Whoever get the job will have a huge job on their hands.
WATERFORD AND GLEESON BACK TO FORM
A facile win over Offaly was not going to be a true parameter of where Waterford where in 2017. A win over Kilkenny, a side they have not beaten since 1959 certainly was. They were made to work for it as expected but Waterford got a massive hoodoo off their back and a confidence boost that was needed after the Cork defeat. Austin Gleeson who did not have as good a game as we would expect from him against Cork, certainly returned to form with five points. When he is in this form he is the best player in the country and cannot be stopped. Robert Lennon had serious trouble marking him and was lucky to remain on the field when he threw his hurl at Gleeson when Gleeson went on one of his rampaging runs before adding another point. Maurice Shanahan made a huge impact from the bench scoring the goal that finally killed the Kilkenny challenge. A local derby against Wexford now awaits the Deise, something which the entire south-east will be looking forward too.