Sport can be very emotional. It can be exhilarating and entertaining. It can bond people by engendering a collective pride and a sense of belonging. It can change how people feel about themselves and how they feel about others. It can touch people just as music or poetry can connect with soul; sport can inspire people. But because sport can do all these things, it can also break your heart. And if you don’t believe me, just ask any Dublin hurling supporter that trudged out of Croke Park on Sunday following game of year that saw Cork beat Dublin to progress to final on September 8th.
Later on Sunday evening, rare species that are Dublin hurling supporters returned to their favourite post match watering holes and haunts to relive critical moments that shaped and informed outcome of this game. And after all of ifs, buts and maybes, it all came back to Ryan O ’Dwyer’s sending off –this truly was turning point in game. Conversations circled from harshness of first yellow card through to whether O ’Dwyer should have been substituted, brilliance of Conal Heaney and back to validity or otherwise of second yellow card. As darkness fell over Capital, emerging consensus (in no particular order) was as follows: This was a brilliant game of hurling. The first yellow card was never a yellow card offence; second yellow card was fair. Liam Rushe was lucky to finish out game but played a blinder; O’Dwyer couldn’t have been substituted because he too was having a blinder and this is most painful part – Dublin had requisite momentum that might just have won game where it not for sending off. Sport can sometimes break your heart.
Meanwhile, on highways, byways and railways to Cork, exhilarated hurling supporters recounted a performance that was probably beyond expectations of most optimistic among them. They regaled each other with their individual experiences of day as they connected with each other as collective followers of their team, their county, their tribe. And why shouldn’t they? As much as last Sunday was devastating for Dublin hurling supporters, it was a great day for Cork hurling supporters who can now sit back and enjoy next Sunday’s other semi-final when Limerick and Clare meet.
GAA fixtures this weekend – GAA Hurling Semi-Final
Sunday 18th August
Limerick v Clare (15:30 GMT)
This is a tough one to call. Most of pundits are understandably giving Limerick edge. As Munster champions, Limerick are unbeaten in championship, have a young talented group of players and a really clever manager. Limerick have beaten Cork who in turn have beaten Clare and even bookies have Limerick favourites. So why am I going with Clare? I think Clare are most talented group of players in country and despite a good performance against Galway, they have still to play to their potential. If they can arrive in Croke Park on Sunday with their ‘A’ game, they can win this but I would expect it will be very close – Clare, just.
Prediction - Clare