The sofa is deep and inviting – the dream lives: don’t stop believing – the grass is green and stripey in Sony Bravialand. The tension is mighty – we must make history. Up the Déise! The Waterford team arrive. Lots of serious faces, nervous faces, ready to do the business. We hope.
The minor game ends and a commentator/pundit says a bad team but they still didn’t win; didn’t score for over 25 minutes and still get the vital goal. Come on the Cats. Another pundit says it just goes to show that hurling is hurling. What? These pundits agree: it’s Déise Daniel in the Cat’s Den. A random jittery thought… ‘As long as we don’t disgrace ourselves…’
A minute’s silence for the late Larry Fanning… an opera singer, big girl, sings Amhrán na bhFiann. Let the battle begin. Don’t stop believing…
There’s handbags from the start and Shefflin scores a point. Eoin Kelly walks slowly over and equalises from a free. Brian Cody looks down on Davy Fitz’. Cha Fitz’ goes between two Waterford players to score. The camera pans across the white and blue sea of faces. Tony Kavanagh and Nicky Griffin look glum.
It’s nineteen minutes in and no Waterford score from play – the sinking into the sofa feeling begins. The two Kilkenny goals arrive and I wish the sofa would get me, devour me.
Come on the Deise – start believing. Start scoring! Eoin Kelly has to try for a goal – no luck, no rub of the green, nowhere to hide. Things will get better… must get better. Thirty minutes in and the excuses come to mind, belief is as dodgy as a Waterford rally. The crowd roar, John Mullane responds. Half-time: 2-15 to 0-5.
Where is plan B? Pundits are talking about awesome Kilkenny and Waterford playing for pride. Michael Lyster says Holy God.
Second half – a few changes, lots of positional switches. Big task. Huge ask. Lots of glum faces, the crowd rallies. There’s 45 minutes on the clock and John Mullane finally scores a Waterford point from play. But at 48 minutes the Believing turns to Leaving. The fans, fine weather or not, the paying public, the poor punters are going home.
Paul Flynn comes on. Thirteen minutes to go and fans stream from the ground. Brian Cody does a noble, sentimental thing and changes goalkeeper. The goodness of the game, and then James McGarry goes and leaves in a soft one. A moment of weakness.
Mercifully, it’s all over. 3-30 to 1-13. Worst defeat ever in an All-Ireland, a pundit says. Like I want to know. Only Kilkenny, the 3-in-a-row completed, are believing now.