Sheff The Greatest Brings Down Curtain on '07
You can see the kind of clear thinking and ruthless logic that has made Brian Cody the most successful manager in the modern GAA in his comments about Henry Shefflin the other day. Not only is Shefflin the best player of the current era, according to Cody, but he must be the greatest ever, simply because it is not possible for any player to have been better.
"I haven't seen better. There have been terrific players, I mean you go back to D.J. and there are so many players but there couldn't have been a better hurler than Henry Shefflin. There couldn't have been because it couldn't be possible," said Cody.
It's a logical construct worthy of the greatest classical thinkers, that one. It kills debate before it can even start. Which is also pretty much what Kilkenny did to Limerick in the opening minutes of Sunday's All-Ireland final, ending what had been a thrilling and heart-stopping hurling summer with the cold steel of the assassin's blade.
Limerick were the story of the summer of course: that county's morose and grim recent history being shaken off with the vigour of a Richie Bennis bear hug. The three-match series which resulted in ultimate victory over Tipperary was a perfect advertisement for the power of positive thinking.
Despite being ten points down deep into the second match, clearly Limerick were never actually beaten, which, when you look at that deficit again, is an extraordinary compliment to the belief they must have had even then, and which took them further than anyone could have imagined this year.
Everything went right for them in the semi-final against Waterford, sure, but again, what utter boldness of mentality they showed in coming through that game.
Waterford trooped disconsolately from Croke Park that day, with the back cover of the history book closing in on this team. That, of course, might be an over-dramatic, simplistic reading of their current station, but the sense that this year was their time was so strong, causing as it did that feeling that the nation was willing them to finally breakthrough.
One suspects that the two games against Cork drew just a little too much gunpowder from their arsenal, and there was a notable flatness to the team that couldn't quite rise to Limerick's ferocious challenge.
Still, the absence of a Kilkenny-Cork final this year at least eliminates that sense of drabness that had begun to hang around the sport in recent seasons. Now the questions are manifold: three-in-a-row for the Cats? Did Waterford miss their chance? Can Limerick scale the heights again? Will the Rebels rise up in 2008? And what of the 'lunatic' fringe in the West?
He always seems to get the last word, that Loughnane fella.