ONE DAY our Kilkenny Hurling Cats were smiling like their Cheshire Cousins.
The next our so oft exciting Cats were more akin to the children’s friend Humpty Dumpty, the protagonist of the English nursery rhyme.
And after Kilkenny’s fall in Nowlan Park on Saturday it may take all the king’s horses and all the king’s men to put our bits and pieces together again.
There were great expectations that Kilkenny would pick off the strawberries from neighbouring Wexford.
Instead, we got a kick in the nether regions and Lee Chin-inspired Wexford broke into our back garden and stole our spuds and cabbage.
Our players were swashbuckling gladiators with super skills and revelled in putting Dublin to the sword.
Bring on the Wexicans had to be the positive cry from our passionate supporters.
But the best made plans of mice and men were shattered as Wexford, humbled when they could only draw with Westmeath, played as if their lives depended on the result.
Should somebody have deemed that the Battle of the South East should be a repeat of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, then we would have been General Custer and his troops and the boys from Vinegar Hill would have been Sitting Bull and this fellow Indians.
Wexford was cock-a-hoop after winning by four points, thus keeping the Model County in the race to bring home Liam MacCarthy.
LIVED TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY
Because of whatever way the All-Ireland championship is run, Wexford’s success and Dublin’s defeat by Galway meant that the Purple and Gold lived to fight another day.
And Kilkenny, thanks be to God and Blessed Martin, the man who nodded his head when we slipped an old tanner (sixpence) into his collection box; later St Martin; we still have a chance to fight our corner in the Leinster Final.
As we licked our wounds after defeat, the thistle in our pants had to be how what was a well-oiled hurling machine in Parnell Park became what looked like a collection of lost souls at the weekend.
We were chalk and cheese.
Lads who would normally put the sliotar through the eye of a needle concentrated on pumping the ball into the Wexford defence, hoping, praying maybe, for a lucky break; a break that for the most part didn’t come due to a stubborn visiting wall of flesh.
For whatever reason, we were off colour. We even had collectors’ items, missed frees by TJ Reid, our Superman and king of the placed ball.
With the exception of our full back line, we looked brittle, edgy and uncertain.
The spirit indeed was willing but the flesh, for whatever reason, appeared to be weak.
We were swamped in midfield and our attack was stymied.
To say the least, it was an off day.
In fairness, it can happen to the best teams in the world in all sports. Thankfully it is usually a rare occurrence.
Wexford players were swarming like locusts so much so that if one of them stung you it would be impossible to finger the culprit.
TWO WEEKS TO SPRING CLEAN
There is tidying up to be done before we meet Henry Shefflin’s Galway again.
We have two weeks to Spring Clean our kitchen, bedroom, sitting room, shower room, indeed all the rooms of our hurling house that looked so topsy turvy on what we might term a Scrap Saturday.
Supporters will be praying for a return to form that in has been mediocre to good in Galway, to very good in Dublin.
Were we to select a Kilkenny Man of the Match we would have to give it to goalkeeper Eoin Murphy.
His first half added time save from a Wexford forward whose effort from point blank range should have rattled the net, has to be one of the greatest stops ever in the history of hurling.
But, unfortunately, even that Herculean effort of courage and skill was not enough to arouse our heroes from what we could call their Rip Van Winkle off day.
The Kilkenny management team has a conundrum to deal with.
It may not be an impossible task but we suspect it will take much soul searching.
The big plus is that we know we have devoted hurlers who cherish the black and amber and are passionate about the game of hurling.
We would love to see them bouncing back to victory in the Leinster Final.
We believe that can happen.
Pride will be the key.
That is something our lads have in abundance.
The coming Croke Park showdown is Kilkenny’s Little Bighorn.
Please God we will have reason to blow our trumpet after that head-to-head.
In our hurlers we trust.
All others still have to convince us.