View from the Couch

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Front Page - – Mary Han­ni­gan

There were around 10 min­utes to go in the All-Ire­land fi­nal when it sounded like Marty Mor­ris­sey was mal­func­tion­ing. “You’ve got me wrapped around your fin­ger,” he said, which would have left Michael Duig­nan, sit­ting be­side him in the com­men­tary box, might­ily con­fused, the al­le­ga­tion com­ing from nowhere. “Do you have to let it linger,” Marty con­tin­ued. “Do you have to, do you have to, do you have to let it linger?”

You’d have to, you’d have to, you’d have to as­sume that Michael is fa­mil­iar with that fine Cran­ber­ries tune, oth­er­wise he’d have been ask­ing ‘what the feck am I let­ting linger?’.

But Marty’s spo­ken ren­di­tion of the song was all part of his Lim­er­ick-themed trib­ute to the new All-Ire­land cham­pi­ons when there were still a hand­ful of min­utes left on the clock. And if there is one county in Ire­land that will never count its All-Ire­land chick­ens un­til they’re fully grown adults it’s Lim­er­ick.

“The banks of the Shan­non are over­flow­ing,” he added, (which you hoped wasn’t the case be­cause we’ve had enough bloody flood­ing for one year), and then he sug­gested there’d be no school this week where Lim­er­ick man­ager John Kiely teaches. In fair­ness he wasn’t alone he for­get­ting that this is still Au­gust so ev­ery school in Ire­land is closed any way, most of us in­sis­tent that it must be Septem­ber if it’s All-Ire­land fi­nal day re­gard­less of what the cal­en­dar ac­tu­ally tells us.

The main is­sue, though, with this salute to the new cham­pi­ons was they weren’t cham­pi­ons yet, the mo­ment Marty de­clared them to be just that prompt­ing a Gal­way come­back that threat­ened to leave Lim­er­ick hearts in pieces again, them only re­cently re­assem­bled af­ter Johnny Doo­ley and Co left them in smithereens back in 1994.

Nar­row­ing lead

If that was The Five Minute Fi­nal this was threat­en­ing to be­come the Eight-ish Minute one, Gal­way nar­row­ing Lim­er­ick’s eight point lead to just the one when the game went in to added time. For his ear­lier tempt-fat­ing you sensed Marty would never again be al­lowed darken the door of the Treaty County should this one go belly-up.

And when Joe Can­ning hit that long free right at the death to try and snatch the equal­is­ing point you can only imag­ine it felt like 45 years to the av­er­age Lim­er­ick devo­tee be­fore the slio­tar fell short. And then you’d have half ex­pected the fi­nal whis­tle to be greeted by si­lence, all those in green stretched in the stands, but in­stead, the roar was ca­cophonous. Lim­er­ick re­vived.

“Forget about Paris, Las Ve­gas or Ibiza, the place to be be­tween now and Christ­mas is Lim­er­ick,” said Marty, and no bet­ter man to lo­cate the best party.

Af­ter an ex­quis­ite Cham­pi­onship sea­son, the fi­nal, as it proved, was more a dol­lop of ic­ing un­der the cake than on top of it, not spring­ing in to life un­til Marty be­gan his lin­ger­ing. But, as our panel pointed out, Lim­er­ick’s jour­ney home with Liam MacCarthy af­ter 45 years of hurt would hardly be marred by the mem­ory of a game that failed to ig­nite un­til those clos­ing stages.

“And Lim­er­ick be­ing Lim­er­ick,” said Ger Lough­nane, “they couldn’t have done it any other way. There were shades of ‘94 all over again . . . but they held out.”

Clos­ing mo­ments

That they did, John Kiely look­ing like a man who was grate­ful the schools are still on hol­i­days be­cause af­ter those clos­ing mo­ments it’s a health farm he needs, not a class­room. “Ab­so­lutely hor­ren­dous,” he said of the fi­nale. “We were al­ways the brides­maid,” he smiled. Now? Just Mar­ried.

As the Bard that is Cyril Far­rell put it be­fore the game, “some days you die, some days you fly, some days pass you by”. Lim­er­ick prob­a­bly felt like they ex­pe­ri­enced it all in added time alone, from dy­ing to fly­ing and ev­ery­thing in be­tween, but in the end they lin­gered on the Croke Park pitch along­side their new pal Liam MacCarthy and took it all in. You’d guess they wanted to stay there for an­other 45 years.

‘‘ For his ear­lier tempt-fat­ing you sensed Marty would never again be al­lowed darken the door of the Treaty County should this one go belly-up

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