By Jimmy Rhatigan
THE GODS of sport weren’t kind to our camogie girls on Sunday.
A puck of a ball, a flick of a coin, a smidgen of good luck, call it what you will, could have given Kilkenny at least a replay.
To be fair, there was certainly another reason why the Cats came out on the wrong side of the result.
The 51st minute of the match was the exact time when the game swirled away from Kilkenny in the contrary wind.
Nothing directly to do with the elements, mind you, but Cork goalkeeper Aoife Murray did make a superb close save to deny Kilkenny a goal.
Seconds earlier it looked as if Ann Downey’s team may have deserved a penalty when Anna Farrell appeared to be fouled.
But it was not to be.
There was no whistle.
You win some, you lose some, but coming home for a second consecutive year, beaten by a single point and with a loser’s medal is a bitter pill.
For the entire 60 minutes plus nail-gnawing injury time, and then more injury time, amounting to circa four minutes, both teams were cautious, extremely cautious at times perhaps.
Okay, so Cork was as tight as tuppence at the back and won some good ball in midfield.
Yet there were spells when one felt that Kilkenny appeared to have more really talented players than their opponents.
Unfortunately the latter wasn’t borne out by the scoreboard, particularly when it mattered most.
The final whistle broke Kilkenny hearts.
One felt, not sorrow, but real disappointment for the Kilkenny girls who played their hearts out.
Courageous Kilkenny camogie girls don’t do sympathy.
But defeat had to be particularly painful for Denise Gaule, a hugely talented sharpshooter who scored 10 of our 13 points.
Result apart that is a fantastic achievement for the South Kilkenny girl but one wonders if therein rests a statistic that points to why the O’Duffy Cup wasn’t here for Monday’s enthusiastic welcome home evening.
Too often Kilkenny had a Lone Ranger only up front.
That post mostly fell to Katie Power, a real warrior.
But regardless of a player’s skills, bravery and commitment, it is always a poison chalice of sorts when one has to do battle against superior numbers, not once, twice, or even three times, but most of the time.
Those who remember the Lone Ranger and Tonto in the cowboy films of over half a century ago will know exactly what we mean.
The combination of Lone Ranger and Tonto, a unique partnership at the time we venture, a cowboy and an Indian looking out for each other, watching each other’s backs, and providing support where necessary.
It was back in the days when The Savoy Cinema, now The Watergate Theatre was our value for money entertainment at an old sixpence for a few great hours of black and white big screen action.
Had our Lone Ranger had a Tonto to support her on Sunday, would the Cats be purring today?
The question is superfluous,a topic for a quiet pint or two, a reason to clutch on to what might have been.
But we will never know.
And it doesn’t really matter at this stage.
Kilkenny’s tactics were excellent, if not always pretty, as, with even one smile from the gods, everything could have been so different.
Post match there has been much criticism of the match official, a not so clever game as the laws of libel will explain.
However in that department those involved with the Kilkenny team did everyone proud as they retained their dignity.
In these situations it is often smart to say nothing.
There are times that in saying nowt you say everything.
There is amazing talent in this Kilkenny squad and hopefully they will get their due rewards next year.
Superb team mentors and lashings of player talent simply have to add to success.
And the gods won’t always be unkind.
Hopefully the entertainment level will improve all around.