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Boxing repeats and long balls

by Jimmy Rhatigan

IT HAPPENS all the time in boxing.

Inevitably there is a re-match following a high profile fight in the wild world of professional pugilism.

The repeat has nothing to do with courtesy or good manners but has everything to do with another pay day for the promoters and more full purses for the warriors.

Accidentally, the game of senior hurling now has a high profile repeat spectacular following a somewhat controversial cracker between Galway and Kilkenny in the championship.

On this Saturday evening, it will be Kilkenny v Galway Part 2 in the Leinster Final at Croker, 7pm.

And, for the counties involved, it has damn all to do with cash or flash but is all about pride, passion and bragging rights.

It will be billed as the Tribesmen v The Cats but the wags may just stick to the boxing theme.

Facebook warriors may call it as Henry Shefflin v Brian Cody in round two of an earlier spat that ended with Shefflin getting the judge’s vote, in this case a late, late free to floor the Cats.

No need to recall the circumstances that led to what is being called a ‘cold’ handshake between the pair that for yonks was wrapped in the same black and amber flag.

Now they are in opposing camps.

As both can be aptly described as heavyweights of the game of hurling, it is fair to suggest that the fisticuffs should be top drawer, the best advice being to leave false teeth in a jar and to pack the groin guards.


We can just hear the fight commentator: In the green and white corner of Ballyhale Shamrocks is King Henry Shefflin, many people’s banker regardless of the occasion.

In the red and green corner of his beloved James Stephens GAA Club is Battling Brian Cody who will have his homework done and will be gagging to teach his opponent a lesson this time.

Referee is Joe Brolly, the umbrella man of many sports who will tog out in black and amber.

The fight will be ten three-minute rounds and the intention is to have a result of the curtain raiser just in time for the boys to beat the war drums in rival dressing-rooms before the main event.

How the Scrap Saturday repeat will go is anyone’s guess.

Galway will probably be bookies’ favourites but as we so often say when referring to the Tribes, the result may balance on what Kilkenny team turns up.

In between what we might term the Salthill and Vinegar games against Galway and Wexford respectively, Brian’s boys gave the Dubs a lesson in the finer points of the beautiful game.

In the head-to-head against Galway we saw a battling and honest display that went unrewarded on the league table.

Against Wexford in UPMC Nowlan Park, we were expected to beat a team of Wexicans already wounded by Westmeath.

God dammit, nothing went right for Kilkenny.

It was all up in the air – literally.


We were like lost souls, playing a long ball game as if the team were preparing for the Poc Fada in the Cooley Mountains.

It was so unlike our usually brilliant Cats that may be contrary, mean and brilliant but seldom, if ever, reaching for the sky.

Even local pigeons abandoned the air space around Nowlan Park for fear of being shot down by scuds aimed at troubling Wexford.

Kilkenny persisting in driving the ball down the pitch reminded of a newspaper headline of yesteryear after the exploits of a particular player whose gargantuan pucks proved to be match winners when the game was more direct and coaches were what the players travelled in.

‘Jimmy Murphy’s long balls were a feature of the game’, the sports’ page banner screamed.

For their fantastic dedication to the cause and their unselfish dedication to the black and amber, our players deserve a smidgen of good fortune.

That Kilkenny is in the Leinster Final after two defeats and could still be in the queue for All-Ireland glory, even if the unthinkable happens ar Dé Satharn is a conundrum that urgently needs a committee meeting.

It is a situation that is almost as bad as refusing to accept cash from pensioners at the turnstiles or depriving the same lifelong supporters of watching their beloved Kilkenny in action because the Gaelic Athletic Association sold TV rights to British broadcaster Sky.

Returning to the topic of spheres begs the question as to what part of their anatomies the GAA big wigs may be scratching when making crazy decisions.

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