Irish amateur sports final the equal of any pro championship

Yesterday's hurling final represented the third Sunday in a row that the GAA provided edge-of-your-seat sports excitement. In yesterday's game, underdog Tipperary beat Kilkenny to end the latter's bid for five straight championships.

You don't have to be an expert on hurling to have appreciated yesterday's contest. It was a replay of last year's final in which Kilkenny came from behind to go past Tipperary to win their fourth straight title. Yesterday for much of the game it looked like it might be more of the same as Tipperary led most of the game, but they just couldn't put Kilkenny away.

Then the magic moment arrived. Last year as the game entered the final few moments Kilkenny uppped the pressure and Tipperary buckled, lost their discipline and Kilkenny went past them for victory. Yesterday, when the critical moment arrived Tipperary held firm, found an extra step and buried Kilkenny with a late flurry of scores to make the final totals look lop-sided. The champions had been dethroned.

What's amazes me is that because Tipperary had won the game with a couple of minutes to play it was actually a let down in terms of late excitement compared with the two football semi-finals played the previous two Sundays. Both of those games were in doubt until the last minute and, in fact, the Down vs Kildare game was only settled when a last second shot at goal hit the crossbar.

Thrilling, heart-stopping stuff in front of 80,000 fans and hundreds of thousands watching on TV. You can't beat it, but the fact that the GAA is an amateur organization and all the players have to earn a living outside of sports only enhances the enjoyment. Of course professional sports are exciting, but they don't provide more excitement than what this great amateur body offers.

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