Years spent honing your craft, playing at small venues in the hope that it’ll lead to something bigger, in the hope that it will one day lead to you walking out on the biggest stage of all, with no sounds reaching your ears save the cheers of the crowd and your own heart pounding in your chest.
On a weekend where Kings of Leon rocked Slane and the Kings of hurling got their championship underway, its easy to see similarities between musicians and GAA players. The dream of playing to a packed out crowd in the biggest of venues is always there be it Croke Park or Slane, and this sustains the athlete and the musician through years of oft-times thankless effort. The most loyal of supporters will always buy your cds or turn up for a junior match on a bitingly cold evening. But here is where the similarities end, however, because even the craziest of rockstars would shy away from marking Patrick Maher.
In an impressively high-scoring game of hurling for a championship game in May, Tipperary ultimately pulled clear of Cork to banish the demons of last years Pairc Ui Caoimh humiliation. It was an all-round positive beginning to the campaign, as performances were solid across the board. . A sometimes frustrating Seamus Callanan, frustrating in the sense that he sometimes doesn’t display his undoubted talent, ran the Cork backs ragged all day yesterday, and left Semple Stadium with a well deserved and well-taken five points.
Indeed all the forwards were in sparkling form, with Eoin Kelly scoring a goal reminiscent of his cracker against the same opposition in 2008, and Lar Corbett starting this championship campaign with the goal scoring touch which led to Liam McCarthy back in September. The contribution of these two veterans of the blue and gold cause, coupled with the workhorse ethic of Patrick Maher and the star quality of Noel McGrath at centre-half forward ensured that Tipperary always had that little extra firepower to subdue the Rebels, even when they found themselves being pegged back midway through the second half.
On other days, allowing seven points to go unanswered would be a cause for grave concern and much debate within the Premier county, but on this occasion it is more likely that the talking point will be the good form of the forwards.
I made the point last week about how the provincial championships are sacred, and I’m sure that the 31,230 people in Semple Stadium yesterday would agree. There’s nothing like a match in Thurles, and for the rest of the year you will be hard pushed to find a game where the scoring is as high and the finishing as exemplary.
It was an encouraging start to the Premier’s championship campaign, and if the momentum can be carried forward then it could be a long summer which in turn could stretch into autumn. Its worth mentioning that 1965 was the last time Tipperary won back-to-back All Ireland titles. In the words of Barrack O’Bama; Is feidir linn.