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Kings of Leinster hurling

by An Phoblacht was published in the An Phoblacht on Monday the 1st of July 1996

If Queen Mary had had her way back in 1558 Offaly and Laois would still be called The King's County and Queen's County and they'd be playing crocquet instead of hurling.

Fortunately the O'Moores and friends never let the plantation work and crocquet didn't get a look in in the hills of Camross and Kinnitty.

Laois, however, could have done with a few O'Moores on Sunday when they went down to Offaly on a score of 4-17 to 2-10.

I remember not so long ago there was great excitement when Offaly beat Kilkenny for their first-ever Leinster title. We all thought it was a fluke and that things would soon be back to normal. Offaly folk would go back to doing the hay for the summer and listening to country music. But were we wrong - Offaly have since gone on to reach five all-Ireland finals, winning three and they've contested almost every Leinster Hurling Final for the last 17 years.

Offaly's great success in recent times have in large part been due to an inner belief and confidence in their ability. I suppose having the Dooleys and John Troy on your team also helps. Between them they mustered 2-14 on Sunday, which was enough to defeat Laois on their own.

Offaly's Trojan Horse finally lived up to his name and galloped through the Laois defence, totting up 2-2. Laois had their own horse in the big-hearted PJ Cuddy - now he would have been well able for Queen Mary and her soldiers.

But spare a thought for poor John O'Sullivan, the Laois captain. After all those months of training and sacrifice and leading his team onto the field, not only did he score an own goal, but he was immediately taken off before he could redeem himself. Ah John, think of those poor Olympic gymnasts who fall off the beam after four years of training. At least you won't be sent to a Siberian labour camp.

After O'Sullivan's departure Laois did manage to rescue the game, but they were never able for Offaly's classy forwards who look like they could be King's County again in September.

Wexford's victory over Dublin, meanwhile, was about as exciting as one of those telephone conversations John Brutal has with John Major. I wonder do they talk about hurling (or country music?)

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