Har­vest­ing the 2017 hurl­ing cham­pi­onship numbers

Irish Examiner - Sport - - GAA - Ir­ish Examiner

The num­ber of side­line cuts Joe Can­ning has suc­cess­fully con­verted into points in the course of his 47 match cham­pi­onship ca­reer. The 16th was sig­nif­i­cant in that it was his first in an All-ire­land fi­nal, com­plet­ing a ‘grand-slam’ hav­ing pointed line-balls in Le­in­ster quar­ter-fi­nals, semi-fi­nals and fi­nals, All-ire­land qual­i­fiers, quar­ter-fi­nal and semi-fi­nals. On only 12 oc­ca­sions has a team raised 30 white flags or more in a sin­gle se­nior hurl­ing cham­pi­onship game, Kilkenny’s 32 v Gal­way in an 80-minute All-ire­land semi­fi­nal in Birr in 1974 hold­ing the record for 43 years. This sea­son it was passed not once but twice, Gal­way hold­ing a brief spell at the top with their 33 points v Of­faly in Port­laoise be­fore Water­ford a fort­night later racked 35 v Of­faly in Tul­lam­ore.

35 33 32 32 32 32

Water­ford v Of­faly

Gal­way v Of­faly

Kilkenny v Gal­way

Cork v Kerry

Kilkenny v Of­faly

Clare v Laois

2017 All-ire­land qlf in Tul­lam­ore

2017 Le­in­ster s/f in Por tlaoise

1974 All-ire­land s/f in Birr

2000 Mun­ster R1 in Kil­lar­ney

2014 Le­in­ster q/f in Kilkenny

2013 All-ire­land qlf in En­nis

This Gal­way No 7 was re­placed in the 55th minute of the 1994 Con­nacht SHC in Ath­league and was not called on for the rest of the year, miss­ing the ’95 cam­paign due to in­jury. He was re­stored to the left half back po­si­tion for the 1996 cam­paign, play­ing the full game against Roscom­mon in the Con­nacht de­cider in Hyde Park, scor­ing a point. He also faced New York in the All-ire­land quar­ter-fi­nal in Kenny Park, Athenry and his only real ex­pe­ri­ence of the big se­nior cham­pi­onship oc­ca­sion was the All-ire­land semi-fi­nal de­feat to Wex­ford in Croke Park, his fourth and last se­nior ap­pear­ance in the ma­roon. That Gal­way No 7? Micheál Donoghue, the 2017 All-ire­land win­ning man­ager. Gal­way found the net in the 29th and 53rd min­utes of their open­ing round fix­ture against Dublin in O’con­nor Park, Tul­lam­ore but those Ja­son Flynn and Conor Cooney green flags were to re­main or­phans as the even­tual All-ire­land cham­pi­ons went 297 goal-less min­utes (not count­ing ‘lost time’) in their four sub­se­quent fixtures. The draw­ing power of Wex­ford and Cork played a huge part in cham­pi­onship 2017 en­ter­ing the record books in one sig­nif­i­cant depart­ment, the high­est ever com­bined at­ten­dance fig­ure for the Mun­ster and Le­in­ster fi­nals. A mas­sive 105,590 clicked through the Croke Park and Sem­ple Sta­dium turn­stiles to watch the Wex­ford v Gal­way and Cork v Clare provin­cial show­downs, just the sec­ond time the com­bined at­ten­dances broke the 100,000 bar­rier. The num­ber of cham­pi­onship games All-ire­land fi­nal ref­eree Fer­gal Hor­gan has taken charge of, the Tip­per­ary of­fi­cial fast­tracked to the top whistling job. His cham­pi­onship CV sug­gests that an ap­pren­tice­ship in the Le­in­ster Round-robin is a very use­ful step­ping stone … 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 The num­ber of white flags raised by Gal­way in their five-match vic­to­ri­ous cam­paign hav­ing reeled off

and in their vic­to­ries over Dublin, Of­faly, Wex­ford, Tip­per­ary and Water­ford. 2014 2014 2014 2014 2015 2016 2016 2017 2017 2017 2017 105,590 101,633 99,820 99,094 99,052

Le­in­ster semi-fi­nal

Le­in­ster quar­ter-fi­nal

Le­in­ster semi-fi­nal

Mun­ster Fi­nal

All-ire­land quar­ter-fi­nal

All-ire­land Fi­nal 2017 2003 2004 1956 1997 Le­in­ster Round Robin

Le­in­ster Round Robin

Le­in­ster Round Robin

Le­in­ster Round Robin

Le­in­ster Fi­nal At­ten­dance break-down by prov­ince

Mun­ster 45,558 52,833 53,000 47,017 43,560 Antrim v West­meath

Laois v Lon­don

Antrim v Laois

West­meath v Antrim

Gal­way v Laois

Dublin v Wex­ford

Kilkenny v Gal­way

Wex­ford v Kilkenny

Cork v Clare

Water­ford v Wex­ford

Gal­way v Wa­ter ford

Le­in­ster 60,032 48,800 46,820 52,077 55,492 Bal­ly­cas­tle Ruis­lip Por tlaoise Mullingar Tul­lam­ore Croke Park Croke Park Wex­ford Park Thurles

Pairc Ui Chaoimh

Croke Park Water­ford’s Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh be­came only the third hurler ever to make 70 se­nior cham­pi­onship ap­pear­ances, and just the sec­ond out­field player to do so, when lin­ing out in the All-ire­land fi­nal. He joined Tip­per­ary goalkeeper Bren­dan Cum­mins (73) and Kilkenny for­ward Henry Sh­ef­flin (71) on the lofty perch. Amaz­ingly, given the com­bat­ive na­ture of his play, it is was also Brick’s 70th con­sec­u­tive cham­pi­onship ap­pear­ance, the Strad­bally club­man never hav­ing missed a fix­ture since his de­but, his record run be­gin­ning with five ap­pear­ances as as sub in 2003. Sh­ef­flin’s best run was 64 con­sec­u­tive starts. The Top 10 cham­pi­onship scor­ers list saw sig­nif­i­cant move­ment in 2017, Joe Can­ning join­ing the 400 club and inch­ing closer to the bronze and sil­ver po­si­tions. Pa­trick Hor­gan leapfrogged his leg­endary Glen Rovers pre­de­ces­sor as Cork’s top flag-raiser while Tip­per­ary’s Sea­mus Cal­lanan joined the elite Top 10 for the first time as Clare’s Niall Gil­li­gan lost his place in the top bracket. Re­mark­ably, half of the Top 10, in­clud­ing run­away leader Henry Sh­ef­flin and sec­ond place Ed­die Ke­her are grad­u­ates of St Kieran’s Col­lege, with third placed Eoin Kelly of Tip­per­ary, DJ Carey and the leg­endary Nicky Rackard of Wex­ford also past pupils of the famed Kilkenny hurl­ing nurs­ery. With all their fixtures be­ing tele­vised live on Sky, Kilkenny played their three 2017 cham­pi­onship games - Le­in­ster semi­fi­nal v Wex­ford in Wex­ford, All-ire­land qual­i­fiers v Lim­er­ick in Kilkenny and Water­ford in Thurles - on Satur­day’s. It was the first time since 1887 - 130 years - that Kilkenny did not hurl a cham­pi­onship game on a Sun­day! And that game of a long by­gone cen­tury, ef­fec­tively an All-ire­land semi-fi­nal v Tip­per­ary in the first ever cham­pi­onship, was played of a … Thurs­day! … in Ur­ling­ford!

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