I watched the All-Ireland Hurling Final on TV last Sunday and I’m still trying to process what I saw and heard. Here are a few thoughts it has provoked so far.
- I note that, like soccer, Gaelic games now interview the winning/losing captain, the winning/losing manager, etc., with the interview going out on the loud-speaker system so the spectators at the game can hear it as well as people at home. A good idea, at least for the spectators at the game, but I suspect it makes for a less successful interview.
- The speech made by the winning captain as he receives the trophy hasn’t improved over the years. With the sweat of battle still fresh and flowing, they tend to talk in a wild, shouting-to-a-man-three-fields-away manner. There must be money to be made coaching GAA captains in how to deliver a half-decent speech.
- The crowd at the game, we were told, was over 82,000. I’m certain that a great number of sports enthusiasts in the north were watching the game – on RTÉ. It got mentioned in BBC sports reports but I don’t remember any footage being shown. So a hurlding final that attracts 82,000 spectators is not televised by the BBC; the average Irish League game gets a gate of less than 1,000. There is a petition being circulated, asking people to sign it and urge the BBC to televise the Irish League.
- I got the impression that the atmosphere in Croke Park on Sunday was super-charged. Kilkenny have been amazingly successful in recent years and have a passionate following. Tipperary and hurling for a long, long time have been synonymous, and on Sunday they put on a display of power and skill that was breath-taking. Yet I noticed that throughout the stadium, fans from both counties were sitting mingled together. The day was what sporting occasions should be like, and contrast sharply with the Shurely Shome Mishtake blog I did a few days ago (I’ve finally got the video up – apologies). It’s days like Sunday that make me realize what a rich, overflowing heritage we in Ireland are lucky enough to have. (But I still think winning-captain-coaching would be good…)