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Dublin: 5°C Tuesday 1 December 2020
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'You couldn't see five yards in front of you and it was a great spectacle' - relishing winter hurling battles

Jackie Tyrrell and Donal Óg Cusack discuss the prospect of battling the elements in a high-stakes 2020 winter hurling championship.

Jackie Tyrrell during the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final against Limerick he refers to.
Jackie Tyrrell during the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final against Limerick he refers to.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

FORMER INTER-COUNTY HURLING stars Jackie Tyrrell and Donal Óg Cusack are both relishing an “interesting” and “different” winter hurling championship.

The provincial competitions, which have been altered due to the Covid-19 shutdown, kick off in late October with the All-Ireland hurling final pencilled in for Sunday, 13 December.

Reigning Leinster champions Wexford will face Galway at the provincial semi-final stage this year while Limerick are set to open their Munster title defence with a quarter-final meeting with Clare.

Several other mouth-watering fixtures were confirmed last week, and all will be battled out in very different circumstances compared to their usual summer stages.

On RTÉ’s The Sunday Game this evening, Kilkenny great Tyrrell and former Cork goalkeeper Cusack discussed the prospect of battling the elements in high-stakes winter hurling.

The latter feels that conditions will favour the “bigger, stronger, more physical teams,” later naming Galway, Limerick and Kilkenny to thrive in the race for Liam McCarthy, while Tyrrell recalled some fond memories of his own. 

“I remember great hurling games [in adverse conditions],” the former Cats captain said. “I remember in 2014 we played an All-Ireland semi-final against Limerick and you couldn’t see five yards in front of you and it was a great spectacle.

“It’s going to be tougher. Even for managers, they’ll have to train under lights where they’re normally used to training on the long summer evenings. It’s going to be so different.

“We have penalties coming into play, there’ll be lads going up to Dublin and doing their Christmas shopping and going to All-Ireland semi-finals and finals. It’s brilliant, it’s different, we still haven’t got our heads around it but to be sitting here, drawing a line in the sand and looking forward to a Leinster and a Munster hurling championship is brilliant.”

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Screenshot 2020-06-28 at 18.58.32 Cusack, Cantwell and Tyrrell in studio. Source: RTÉ The Sunday Game.

Tonight’s presenter Joanne Cantwell proceeded to ask Cusack if winter hurling would suit some teams more than others, with a nod to his own county thrown in there.

“We know that Cork don’t traditionally call themselves a winter hurling county,” Cantwell noted, with Cusack responding: “I remember Cork winning an All-Ireland final in 1999, it was far from a sunny day!”

“I was on the Hill that day, getting drowned,” Tyrrell interjected before All-Ireland-winning stopper Cusack offered his thoughts.

“It’s hard to know, it’s a very interesting one,” he said.

“It’s a long-term debate in terms of do the bad conditions suit the bigger player, do they suit the smaller, quicker player or is the smaller, quicker player faster in all conditions?

“My gut is, I think it’s going to suit the bigger, stronger, more physical teams. Odds are conditions are going to be bad. Yeah, fields are good, getting way better… but when I think of Galway, Limerick, Kilkenny, I think it’s not going to be a disadvantage definitely to those teams.”

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Emma Duffy

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