Sunday 25 August 2019

Tom's Hurling Analysis: Both sides had equal chances to win in added time

Tom Dempsey
Tom Dempsey

Tom Dempsey

Sport can be as exhilarating as heartbreaking, and the dramatic events of last weekend certainly showcased the emotional contrast that comes from winning and losing.

Wexford and Tipperary were left heartbroken after losing their All-Ireland semi-finals by the minimum, and Galway were in seventh heaven with the promise of two Senior finals to look forward to in September.

My heart goes out to Colm McGee, his selectors and players who, after a wonderful comeback, lost out in the cruellest way possible to a Galway point that was scored six and a half minutes into injury time.

There has been a lot of discussion on the playing of the extra two and a half minutes beyond the four signalled, and surely there would have been no complaints from either side had Cathal Egan concluded after Kate Kelly's equalising free.

However, for our own sanity we need to appreciate that the extra-time played beyond this offered equal opportunity for both sides to secure the all-important winner.

There are huge positives to be taken from the game, none more than the wonderful fighting qualities shown to claw our way back into it in the second-half.

A number of new players have been introduced over the past 24 months and I feel that we have re-positioned ourselves as serious contenders.

I have rarely experienced as intense an atmosphere as was Croker on Sunday where Tipperary and Galway treated us to the game of the year. It was good old-fashioned 15 on 15 and this, more than anything, I felt contributed to the spectacle.

My criticism of overly tactical hurling a few weeks back didn't sit well in some quarters and I have to admit that there were times during the game that Seamus Callinan's display prompted me to question Galway's reluctance to use some form of sweeper system.

On the flip side however it has to be asked, would Anthony Cunningham's men have scored 26 times if they had withdrawn a forward?

In this case the end justifies the means.

Things are becoming a little clearer in the Pettitt's Senior hurling championship, with Glynn-Barntown being the latest team to secure their passage to the last eight with a good win against great rivals St. Martin's.

The Glynn men showed more appetite for battle and this could be partly explained by a greater need for the points, but the Martin's will need to quickly re-discover their previous form if they are to fulfil early promise with the quarters just around the corner.

Rathnure are surprisingly out of contention, leaving a real winner-takes-all game between St. Anne's and Rapparees, with the town men I'm sure appreciative of Cloughbawn's continuation of good form under P.J. Dempsey.

The last two spots in the other group are down to the Alley, Harriers and Ferns and I would take the Wexford men to secure one spot, although they can take nothing for granted against an ever-improving Shamrocks side.

The real surprise is that the form team over the past couple of years, Ferns, are very close to exiting the competition and nothing less than a win over Oulart allied to a Shels defeat of the Alley will avoid this scenario.

The Alley will be very happy with their strong performance against Oulart and the result against the county champions is certainly not a given, so I would imagine a lot of texting and phone calls between grounds on the last day which in itself justifies our championship system.

Finally, I don't believe diving is a major issue in our games and the sanction on young Tyrone player, Tiernan McCann, is over the top.

Diving should not be tolerated and we should have a clear ruling (maybe a one-match ban) if the referee does not take the action of a black card on the day.

To make an example of one player having ignored other examples over the past few years isn't entirely fair, and at this point I would imagine the player is embarrassed enough about the incident. Draw a line in the sand and let the next one to step out of line suffer the consequences.

Wexford People

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