Tuesday, September 9, 2014

2014 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Final as Told by Twitter

It was going to be a good day in sports. The All-Ireland Senior Hurling Final was set to throw in at 3:30, and the first week of the NFL season kicked off at 6. We started the day off right, a slightly-less-than-full Irish breakfast.

When the afternoon rolled around, we fired up the RTE streamer and caught the end of the pregame festivities. The game got off to a hot start, with both teams putting up points and getting very physical.

For our American friends, Weetabix is a brand-name Euro breakfast cereal much like our Wheaties... with the same kind of athletic advertising stance. Michael Jordan: "Ya gotta eat your Wheaties!" Michael O'Jordan: "Ya gotta eat your Weetabix!"

The game continued into a scoring frenzy in the middle of the first half, and fans were getting pumped.

At the end of the first half, the scoring streak slowed as the game became a physical grindfest. At halftime, the score was tight and expectations for a great finish high.

To begin the second half, Kilkenny scored a quick goal, but Tipperary kept it tight.

Some questionable officiating and a controversial new rule crept into the action near the end of the game. Last June, the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) that oversees hurling, camogie (women's hurling), and Gaelic football clarified a penalty shot rule after a controversial play involving Cork goalkeeper Anthony Nash.

In (very) short, the Nash Ruling means that players shooting a penalty shot can no longer cross the 20 meter line, leading to many more blocked shots. Some fans took to Twitter to express their feelings toward this game-changing rule.

As the game went into extra time, the score was tied, with one minute of extra time awarded. Most of that minute was spent with players standing around waiting for a couple of rulings. A controversial offensive foul on Kilkenny gave a very long penalty show to Tipperary. The refs took most of a minute just separating angry players and coaches before setting the ball down for the 97-meter penalty shot.

If Tipperary could put the ball through the uprights from 100+ yards, they would most likely take the game... unless the refs gave Kilkenny an extended chance to tie... But if Tipp missed, the game would end in a draw with a replay to come. The shot sailed... over? Through? Wide? No one could immediately tell. The official called it a miss on the field, but a play this big required the use of Hawk-Eye instant replay.

The call of miss held up on review, and the game ended in a draw. 

Take a look at just how close Tipperary came to walking away with this final.

Since the close call, a small but vocal group wonders aloud if the Hawk-Eye was falsified to force a draw and subsequent replay. These games bring in a lot of money for the GAA, so their accountants must be smiling at this result. The replay software display does make an animated image rather than live-action camera looks, so...

In any case, the match was one for the books, and the hurling final still isn't decided! These two teams will be back at Croke Park under the lights on September 27th. We'll see you then!

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