Cool hand Richie wins the day as Cats spring back to life



Sometimes it is as simple as it looks. The old gunslinger sidles into town, draws his pistol and quietens the annoying upstart. Again. For The Waco Kid and Sheriff Bart, see T,J, Reid and Richie Hogan. Galway will have to consult Hedley Lamarr regarding the best treatments for familiar yet unquenchable debilitating attacks. Yet again, those tiger feet mounted their blazing saddles and rode out towards the next frontier on the horizon.

Joe Canning must be bewildered. How could a soul not be? Like the farmer that has his whole herd corralled in the holding yard for testing, only for the two wily usual suspects to pull off an escape act and do their thing. You know its coming but you also know there’s damn all you can do about it. For so long, Canning – who ended up with only less than the victors’ total on his own – appeared to have the likely escapees well in behind the electric fence – with David Burke and the two Mannions also acting as drovers – until the pair of crafty campaigners gave all and sundry the slip.

Richie Hogan (Kilkenny)

In the early stages it appeared that, as expected, it would come down to a showdown between Reid and Canning. Indeed, for a long time it seemed as if, due to his own arrow-like accuracy and the gargantuan work rate of those around him was going to be enough to carry the day. However, what’s a movie without a plot twist?

Temptation was to say Galway boss Shane O’Neill will wonder how his hurlers lost this game. Except he’ll know well. We all do. Brian Cody doesn’t do panic. Or excitement. His familiar hop, trot and jump would be as good as it gets if they won 10 All-Irelands in a row. Not all that long ago, the mightn’t have been in the realms of fantasy.

Times have changed in so many ways. Yet, the stoic Cody way remains unmoved. In the early stages, Martin Keoghan and Eoin Cody were two Road Runners to Galway’s Wile E. Koyote. Once it became clear, though, that the hunters were about to become the hunted, Cody called Cody ashore.

The most famous baseball cap in Irish sport!

Not the first apprentice to be clocked off their shift early under this duty manager. Most certainly not the last either. To most normal teams, withdrawing generals of the calibre of Colin Fennelly and Walter Walsh would almost certainly spell defeat. In a manner tantamount to hurling self harm. Difference being, Kilkenny aint normal. No mundane outfit could either withdraw warriors of the calibre mentioned or keep a wizard like Richie Hogan in reserve.

TJ Reid still conducts the Kilkenny Orchestra

Ultimately, mind you, as one late, much loved mentor used to put it “When it’s time to sh** or get off the pot” they always find a way. The great ones always do. In this case, times and personnel may have changed, the methodology probably never will. Why would it.

There has been much conjecture over the years, including from this corner, about how the composition of the modern sliotar has altered the role of the midfielder in hurling. Tonight’s game saw several collisions of the old and the new. Kilkenny’s Conor Browne could hardly have a more purebred pedigree for stardom with a hurl. Over the course of tonight’s game, he not only put his own prowess on his full show but also his ability to perform both midfield roles with aplomb.

The son of camogie legend Angela Downey-Browne flashed over some fine scores himself but also played the other function out perfectly. Turning ammunition supplier when The Cats opened the filing cabinet and went for the document marked ‘Tried And Trusted’. In other words, bamboozle the opposition with a rapid goal blitz and then carry on as if nothing happened.

Conor Browne is becoming a key player for Brian Cody’s side

It’s hard to know what was more remarkable about Hogan’s heroics when he diid enter the fray, the audacious attempt at a ‘major’ he just failed with by inches or the even more sumptuous strike he did essay to the Tribesmen’s net seconds later. Reid rippled the onion bag within moments of that again and suddenly this winter wonderland of a G. A. A. season had a familiar and almost comforting look to it.

The Munster S. H. C. final has always and will always hold a very special place in my heart. Why I’m not entirely sure, it just has an aura about it. Even this year’s one. The view in many places would be that whoever wins between Limerick and Waterford will get the greatest Christmas present of all. An easy stance to understand. However, one and all would do well to beware the hungry Cats waiting in the long grass.

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