A view from the sidelines


A two point lead in a GAA match has got to be the worst lead. I’ve seen my teams snatch victory from the jaws of defeat but to see your dreams shattered in the space of seconds is just hard to take.
My good friend RTE’s Mike McCartney, a proud St Thomas man, told me he was heartbroken after Sunday’s All-Ireland Senior Hurling Club semi-final defeat to Ballyhale Shamrocks. I can only imagine how he feels.
It was agony for the Galway club who gave everything on Sunday but didn’t get their rewards. Sport can be cruel sometimes. I’m sure this defeat will be on their minds for a while. It’s a hard one to take.
As a neutral you love endings like last Sunday but as a supporter you feel for the losing side. St. Thomas’ had literally one foot in the final but conceded a free at the end. Any other time you’d expect the player to tip it over the bar or go for goal and have the shot blocked down but when it’s TJ Reid standing over the ball you think there could be magic.
Reid admitted after the game that he had asked the referee how long was left and was told “30 seconds”. He knew what he had to do and he did it. Kilkenny hurling manager Brian Cody, who was an interested spectator, would’ve been proud of the comeback. It’s something we’ve seen with Cody’s sides over the years.
Sunday’s game wasn’t the first time in this championship that Ballyhale have had to grind out a win and stage a remarkable comeback. The reigning All-Ireland champions very nearly lost their provincial title at the semi-final stages to Offaly side St. Rynagh’s. It was a goal from Eoin Cody, with seconds remaining, that brought the game to extra-time. Ballyhale went on to win the game by nine points.
Ballyhale’s battling and fighting qualities are to be admired but they know they can’t be complacent or switch off against Ballygunner in the final. The Waterford outfit are out to claim a historic first All-Ireland title and would love nothing better than to dethrone the champions. They are a side that Ballyhale will be wary of.

I wonder is Caoimhin Kelleher superstitious? Because he must wonder about bad luck. The Corkman is an exceptional keeper and I’ve always rated him but unfortunately he’s at Liverpool with Alisson the number 1 keeper there and for the Republic of Ireland Gavin Bazunu grabbed his chance and will not want to let go of the jersey. Kelleher has been solid every time Jurgen Klopp has given him the nod. This season he has been Liverpool’s penalty hero in the Carabao Cup against Leicester, played very well in the league game against Chelsea where Pool drew 2-2 and then in the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final against Arsenal he pulled off a superb save to deny Lacazette from a free-kick. An elderly friend of ours said Kelleher reminded him of a young Pat Jennings. Klopp has come out and said the Corkman will start the Carabao Final against Chelsea; good to see the manager reward him. Let’s hope his excellent form continues and that his luck changes and he gets a run as a number 1; he deserves it.