Tuesday, 19th September 2017
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Michael Garland,

bizBoost Chair,

Waterford Business Group

Rise and rise again, like the Phoenix from the ashes!

Well it was not to be. Derek’s young charges did the County proud and Galway were a team inspired, just that wee bit stronger on the day.

It was a pulsating match with so many highs and lows. A rip roaring final, that saw two teams give no quarter. We witnessed colossal hits, a frenetic pace and talented hurlers covering every single blade of grass on Croke Park’s field of green. A better advert for hurling there could not have been.

I watched the match, along with thousands of others, in Waterford City’s newest outdoor venue, The Apple Market. This re-engineered corner of the City was built with many, many detractors. If the truth be told, a venue, which during the construction phase, received endless amounts of unfair criticism by hundreds of keyboard warriors, from all over the country. Yet, on Sunday 3rd September this performance area would play host to a magnificent Gladiatorial contest.

With three screens to choose from, every supporter in white and blue could comfortably view the match. The whole area was filled with Déise families, friends and the odd tourist, wondering what the hell was going on. I saw visiting Spanish students getting caught up in the majesty of the day. I know that Waterford hurling has now gained a few more International supporters from the Basque country.

There was a never ending number of small children running around hysterically, in their Déise colours. Quickly pursued by a Mum or Dad, trying to bring them back to order. A hopeless task, as they would be off at the earliest opportunity, pretending they too were in Croke Park, just like their heroes Gleeson, Brick and Moran.

Tipperary referee Hogan blew the whistle at 15:30 and within a few minutes our hopes seemed shattered. As Galway steamed into an early lead and it looked like the Déise men were in for a very tough day at the office. Then up popped the white and blue Captain, to blast the sliotar into the Tribesmen’s net – dare we start to dream?

It would be a pulsating game with never more than a few points between the two teams. At halftime there was only one point in it and we could all take a collective breath. There was a rush to get refreshments and take back to your vantage point. Hoping that supporters would be polite and normal order resumed prior to the start of the second half. With everyone back in their place the game restarted.

The Déise ever so briefly went into the lead around 16:30 and the crowds’ excitements levels rose. If we were not careful the new Apple Market roof would be lifted right off the foundations! We were all shouting and screaming in unison. A choreographed emotional rollercoaster that had all of us hoping that our heart rate could be controlled.

At around the hour mark, the Tribesmen’s talisman Joe Canning, got his eighth point of the match and a few of us started to feel that the match might just be slipping away. Suddenly there was a four point difference, as the clock ticked inevitably towards fulltime.

With four minutes of added time, could our Déise men make up the three point difference? Would Austin Gleeson get another wonder goal to drag us back into the match? Alas, it was not to be. When Hogan blew the final whistle, the Tribesmen were three points to the good. Galway would win their fifth All-Ireland Senior Hurling title, a first for 29 years.

Despite the thousands of supporters, thronging The Apple Market, you could have heard a pin drop towards the end of extra time, as the match drew towards its inevitable conclusion. We collectively applauded and cheered the wonderful effort by Derek’s squad. It was a titanic struggle and “Boi” can we be proud of our county.

Galway were just too strong on the day and watching “The Sunday Game”, you could evidently see why. The graphic for “Man of the Match” clearly showing, two giant Tribesmen beside the Déise’s Jamie Barron!

Waterford has surely a great hurling future. Our new outdoor venue, The Apple Market, will have its roof raised many times, in the not too distant future.

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