The Paudie Palmer column: Austin Gleeson is one of the best hurlers in the country, he doesn't deserve any Rebel scorn

The Paudie Palmer column: Austin Gleeson is one of the best hurlers in the country, he doesn't deserve any Rebel scorn
A dejected Austin Gleeson. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

IT was somewhat different sitting down to view this year’s All-Ireland hurling final. 

Did those of us inside the Rebel boundary really have a runner in this one? If I am confusing you, just cart yourself forward to the football equivalent. We will all become Mayo people that day, will we not? 

The research department informed me there was a distinct maroon flavour to the Rebel roar last Sunday. On deeper analysis, can I ask was it more to do with a lack of love for our Déise neighbours than being massive Galway fans? 

It could have had a bit to do with a certain Austin Gleeson, who escaped a red card in the first half of the semi-final win over Cork. 

Honestly though, I didn’t get this anti-Waterford angle. They have won two All-Irelands in over 130 years and there are many around Leeside who secretly wish that the number stays at two.

When you think of the size of the county and taking into account the fact that the ash game is not played in all parts, they deserve huge credit for operating at the level that they do. As for Austin Gleeson, I am trying to figure out what sins he has committed to deserve such scorn. Removing the headgear from Luke Meade and getting away with it? 

To this simple scribe, he is one of those talented players in the country, who instils a love of hurling in the impressionable young children who have plenty of sporting idols from other sports. Gleeson has the X factor.  

Time to stray away from the negativity and move to salute the historic achievement of this famine-ending Galway team. Wasn’t it just wonderful that Joe Canning has escaped from that well-populated club made up of outstanding players who depart the inter-county scene, without climbing the famous steps of the Hogan Stand? 

Because he was part of a number of Galway teams that came up a little short on the big days, it suited some to believe that Joe couldn’t be considered in the higher echelons of hurlers. He now has an identity card for the elusive club of winners. 

Joe Canning. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Joe Canning. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

On many occasions, when Galway were winning All-Ireland minor titles there was a view that questioned the value of them if they couldn’t get Liam McCarthy to cross the Shannon.

Another aspect of Galway’s victory that may cause some of the students of hurling to sit down and prepare their next paper on the evolution of the ancient game has to do with goals or lack of them and the demise of the small hurlers. For some of us who were reared on the maxim that 'goals win matches' we may now have reason to question the wisdom of that. 

Those of you who pride yourself in having all sorts of information at your fingertips I have a small task for you. Name one of the umpires that have waved green flags when manning goalposts being defended by Galway’s opposition in this year’s challenge for Liam. 

The road to Croker and back isn’t paved in green anymore or so it seems. 

In relation to the vertically challenged forwards, they are now an endangered species. According to Micheál Donoghue’s gospel our Lord, who the statisticians tell us, stood at six foot, wouldn’t get a look in. 

The physical dimensions of this Galway team have more in common with rugby defenders than hurling teams of a decade ago. Maybe size does matter.

Now, this is not just an observation based on this Galway team, but over the past couple of years the distance that players can drive a sliothar has increased considerably. Basically 65s are fast approaching the status of tapovers. 

On Sunday night I was present at a packed auditorium in Timoleague for the staging of the west Cork Junior A hurling final. It is a competition that still matters around that neck of the woods. 

Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Clonakilty were awarded four frees between their own 45- and 65-metre lines in the opening half. Of the four, the Clon custodian Mark White drove two of them over the bar and the other two went wide. 

And this was junior hurling! Is it futile to suggest that the suits would have a look at the possibility of increasing the weight of the small ball in an effort to bring some in around the house activity back into the game? Just a thought.

Mention of Sunday’s Croke Park events wouldn’t be complete without some reference to the minor contest. Cork being beaten in an All-Ireland final, by two points, was way off the radar in recent years as they struggled in Munster, so this journey by the Cork minor team was certainly a success. A decision here and there may have cost them outright victory, but the experience gained will be invaluable in their future careers.

Donal Mannion of Galway in action against Daire Connery of Cork. Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Donal Mannion of Galway in action against Daire Connery of Cork. Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

To finish, can I ask you another of those soul searching questions: how are the Cork leagues progressing? Not interested, did I hear you say? Will I tell you about the Kerry ones? 

No bad language now please, I will take it that you don’t want to know. You will probably tell me that if you want to live a sad life and immerse yourself in league form, you can open up the Cork County Board website and find out all you need to know. 

But do you know how I am up to speed on the Kerry ones, the crowd next door, you know the Irish Examiner, had a feature on this Monday with a complete guide on who went up and just as importantly, who was relegated. By the way, I am not accusing the good people at the Examiner of being biased. It is a simple fact that leagues around these parts are not viewed as being all that important. 

And then you have the private members club, otherwise known as the Cork senior hurling league.

Next week, I will be ok again, and I promise to stick with championship action. To say our goodbyes, best wishes to both the Cork Intermediate and Senior camogie teams in Croke Park on Sunday. Both of them have been outstanding all season, now the final hurdle is there to be jumped.

paudie.palmer@hotmail.com @paudiep

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