There’s a famous line from The Wire where one gang member is explaining the hierarchy to another through the medium of chess – while the pawns do the legwork, “the king stay the king”.
After 90 minutes of hurling in FBD Semple Stadium last Sunday, we can say the same about Munster and national hurling.
Until Limerick are beaten, we have to expect that they will keep winning. They were asked more questions by Clare in Thurles than most other recent opponents, but John Kiely’s side still found a way.
Even when Declan Hannon’s massive lead point in injury time was answered by a score for the ages by Tony Kelly from a sideline cut, the Shannonsiders never wavered and were ultimately rewarded with the new Mick Mackey Cup – fittingly, given that it was the first time the county had won four straight Munster titles since 1933-36.
A third consecutive All-Ireland and a fourth in five years seems more probable than possible – the more is thrown at them without felling them, the more their aura grows.
As Clare manager Brian Lohan conceded afterwards, lifting his team for the All-Ireland quarter-finals the weekend after next will not be an easy task, given the physical and mental energy expended.
They will most likely face Wexford if the Model County can see off Kerry this weekend, while Cork face Antrim with the Rebels expected to win to set up a clash with Galway, who lost the Leinster final to Kilkenny.
After the neutral-at-best handshake between Brian Cody and Henry Shefflin after the round-robin game in Salthill, it was natural that there would be attention paid to it again but in reality it was just a sub-plot and the big concern for Galway will be how they failed to back up their showing in the league section.
Kilkenny took the Bob O’Keeffe Cup again despite two defeats in their previous five matches, proof that they do generally find a way in Leinster, but the last two seasons have seen them eliminated by a Munster side in the All-Ireland semi-finals.
Stopping that pattern will be a challenge but, even if they do, they may not be able to stop the Limerick machine.
In contrast, there will definitely be new All-Ireland football champions, after Tyrone were put to the sword by Armagh.
As with the years after their Sam Maguire wins of 2003, 2005 and 2008, the Red Hands found it difficult to maintain the momentum and it was a win that Armagh needed after failing to produce in big championship games in the recent past.
Their next assignment will be another all-Ulster clash against beaten provincial finalists Donegal, with Kieran McGeeney’s men looking to reverse the quarter-final defeat of April.
Mayo got back on track against Monaghan and Kildare stand in the way of their quest to make the All-Ireland quarter-finals while Cork meet Limerick and Clare go up against Roscommon.
Meanwhile, the Tailteann Cup looks to have caught the imagination – witness Sligo’s celebrations after the penalty shootout win over Leitrim – and the televised semi-finals (Sligo v Cavan and Offaly v Westmeath) on Sunday week in Croke Park will give it a proper shop window.
In golf, this weekend’s DP World Tour (formerly European Tour) event is the Volvo Cars Scandinavian Mixed in Halmstad in Sweden. A novel event in which male and female golfers compete, the prize fund is €1.86m, with the winner taking home around €300,000.
On the PGA Tour, the stop is the RBC Canadian Open in Ontario, with a total of just over €8m up for grabs and a first prize of €1.45m or so.
Meanwhile, in Hertfordshire, just outside London, the first LIV Golf invitational tournament takes place, with a maximum of 48 players playing for a total purse of €23.3m.
This will be the case for the seven ‘regular’ events in the series, including a stop at Trump Bedminster in New Jersey. The eighth leg, the team championship, takes place at Trump National Doral in Miami and boasts a total of €46.6m.
To provide a comparison, the biggest PGA Tour competition, The Players’ Championship, has a fund of €18.64m.
Last place winners
The winner of each regular LIV tournament will pocket around €3.72m, while the player in last place will be consoled with €111,000.
In contrast, anyone coming last in Sweden or Canada this weekend will find themselves missing the cut and looking for a flight home on Friday night, having to cover travel and caddie costs themselves.
In that regard, it’s somewhat understandable why some golfers have taken the riches on offer from LIV.
The name comes from the Roman numeral for 54 as each event is 54 holes and 54 is also the score you’d get if you birdied every hole on a par-72 course.
The ‘real’ letters behind the whole initiative are PIF – Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia.
And that, ultimately, is why there is such opposition, given the country’s questionable record on human rights – this is sportswashing of the same kind that has seen some of the world’s biggest football clubs taken over by organisations that are not necessarily doing it for the community.
Graeme McDowell is one of the names attached to the new venture, though few of the world’s top stars have signed up.
While the Antrim native knows that he could be ruling himself out of contention to ever captain Europe in the Ryder Cup, he had to do what was best for him and his family.
“I had to face the reality that I could be walking away from that opportunity,” he said.
“A lot of things weighed into my decision, but I decided that following the LIV opportunity was best for me and my family. I can’t really bet on things that might never happen.
“There are no guarantees on the PGA Tour or DP World Tour and I’ve got a compelling opportunity here with LIV.
“I’m not here to cure the world’s geopolitical situation. I am here to play golf.”
McDowell has earned something in the region of €35m from golf and ultimately it’s not for anyone else to say what is ‘enough’ – he is an independent contractor and entitled to maximise his income.
At the end of the day, interest from spectators and television broadcasters will determine if LIV is a success: if nobody cares about it, then all the money in the world won’t change that.
This week, any curiosity centred around whether or not Phil Mickelson – in self-imposed exile since some ham-fisted comments about the Saudis and the murder of journalist Jamal Khasoggi – would show up.
The six-time Major winner was the 48th name added, on Monday evening but it was hardly a surprise. Such ‘drama’ will hardly last.