During the first half of last Saturday night’s Munster SHC game between Cork and Limerick at SuperValu Páirc Uí Chaoimh, there was a break in play.

After a frantic start, an injury to a player – and a subsequent set-to on the sideline, resulting in a yellow card for a member of each management team – it was a chance to draw breath. I made sure to look around and take in as much as I could; there was a sense even then that it was a special night.

Cork, who had to win to maintain hopes of progressing to the All-Ireland series, led by eight points at half-time but this was Limerick. Three years ago, I had sat in the same Páirc Uí Chaoimh press box and watched Tipperary establish a ten-point interval advantage against the Shannonsiders in the Munster final.

What followed after half-time that day was an incredible turnaround that I described in these pages as “hurling from the gods” and many of the attendance of 41,670 must surely have expected similar.

Two goals from Séamus Flanagan – he finished with 3-3 from six shots – helped John Kiely’s side move four points in front but still Cork didn’t wilt. The gap was two points deep in injury time when Shane Kingston was fouled for a penalty.

More than 70 minutes of wonderful action, essentially distilled into one shot, Patrick Horgan versus Nickie Quaid. In 2018, Quaid made a wonder-save to deny Séamus Harnedy the All-Ireland semi-final; ensuring Limerick stayed on course for what has been unprecedented glory, but this time he couldn’t stop Horgan’s shot.

Brian Hayes added an insurance point and when Seán Stack blew his whistle for the final time, the scoreboard read Cork 3-28 Limerick 3-26.

It was a game for the ages and the stands and terraces emptied on to the field as the Cork fans greeted an incredible result, soundtracked by Bruce Springsteen’s Glory Days, who is there in person this Thursday. I was up against a deadline but again, I had to stand up and drink in the moment.


On Sunday morning, I still felt physically shattered so I can only imagine how any of the players felt.

At my niece’s birthday party later that day, my father expressed sympathy for how the dramatic finish must have put pressure on me to write it up, but it had genuinely never occurred to me in those terms.

It was an absolute pleasure to witness such a spectacle and an absolute cheek to call it ‘work’. And just for the avoidance of doubt, that would be my verdict if it had happened the opposite way round too, as disappointing as a third Cork loss would have been.

They still have no margin for error and must beat Tipperary this weekend; Limerick are still the All-Ireland favourites but they must regroup and ensure they see off Waterford next Sunday week.

It’s all finely poised and it’s the embodiment of what we love about sport – the sheer unscripted drama and the sense that anything could happen.

The downside is that the heralding of the wonderful spectacle was joined by as much lamenting of the fact that the streaming of the game on GAAGO denied a wider audience the chance to see it.

There was some narrative fallacy at play – the general expectation beforehand was that Limerick would win, perhaps comfortably, in which case nobody would have felt sad to miss it – but, equally, there was no hurling match on television for the second weekend in a row. When hurling is a game that needs to be grown, this certainly does not tick that box.

Leinster championship

The Carlow-Kilkenny game in the Leinster championship was also limited to GAAGO but if anybody was complaining beforehand, they were quiet about it. If someone predicted a draw beforehand, they were merely thinking it and not saying it.

It was a marvellous achievement by Carlow to earn a draw against their much-vaunted neighbours and it was the latest in a series of results in the east to have confounded the view that the province would lack excitement.

With three rounds of five completed, Dublin lead on five points with Kilkenny on four while Wexford and Galway have three each, Antrim have two and Carlow one. This weekend, Kilkenny host Wexford while Dublin travel to Galway and Antrim entertain Wexford.

It would be difficult to call the outcomes with any degree of certainty and hopefully that will be reflected in the attendances.

Women’s Super League

Ireland captain Katie McCabe and her Arsenal team-mate, England’s Leah Williamson, during the Women’s European Championship qualifier last month. \Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

My eldest son has somehow logged nearly five years on the planet while I wasn’t looking and in September he will start in Scoil Mhaoilíosa, Knockavilla NS.

Last Friday night, the school held its annual sports evening and we went along – thankfully, our contingent only had interest in the tiny tots’ race and no parents were harmed in the egg-and-spoon contests or the like.

On a fine night, there were plenty of short sleeves on show and one girl was clad in an Arsenal shirt. Being a disciple of that cause, I craned my neck to see if there was a name on the back and there was.

Rather than Bukayo Saka or Martin Ødegaard, instead she had the number 15 and Katie McCabe, in the correct Women’s Super League style. Even ten years ago, something like that would have been rare to the point of non-existent and it’s worth celebrating that it is now so mainstream.

Will that girl, and the rest of the Arsenal-supporting cohort, be celebrating on Sunday evening, as the Premier League comes to an end? Probably not, given that Manchester City are such a powerful presence.

After two decades without a title, to make it to the final day is huge progress. And it’s important to enjoy the journey rather than being fixated on the destination.

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