On This Day - Aug 16 1998: Omagh bombing overshadows triumph for Kilkenny
Guinness All-Ireland SHC semi-final: Kilkenny 1-11 Waterford 1-10
THE hurlers of Kilkenny and Waterford, plus 50,000 supporters in Croke Park, cocooned themselves from the despair gripping the nation to play out a thrilling All-Ireland hurling semi-final.
Beforehand, a Croke Park spokesman defended the decision to go ahead with the match by pointing out the logistical difficulties in postponing such a big match at short notice.
For sure, thousands of Waterford supporters in particular had congregated on Dublin from Friday night onwards.
But the question had to be posed whether the game would have gone ahead had such a loss of life occurred in Dublin or perhaps anywhere else south of the border?
After the depression of the journey down from Belfast yesterday morning, the whooping and hollering of fans in the vicinity of Croke Park before the game was difficult for this correspondent to stomach.
The national flag did fly at half-mast all around the ground as a gesture of respect to the dead, while GAA president Joe McDonagh himself went out onto the pitch to announce a minute’s silence before the game.
But even that was sullied by a couple of deeply distressing shouts and whistles.
As for the game, Kilkenny just about deserved their victory even though Waterford had the chances to win it as well.
WATERFORD'S defeated sat dumbfounded, shocked and not able to accept what had just gone before them.
Kilkenny’s blend of young and old, of textbook defending and pinpoint accuracy when it mattered in front of goal, had hoisted the Cats above Waterford’s challenge and above any prediction that handed Waterford one half of the All-Ireland party tickets.
Tony Browne, a man whose class has brought Waterford back to a stage where its hurling can now contest proceedings in Munster and beyond, was inconsolable.
There’s no doubt in the eyes of the world that this sporting occasion was not of importance.
Equally there can be no doubt that gaels north of the border would have preferred to see this showpiece stalled as a mark of respect for the victims of terrorism in Omagh.
Kilkenny: J Dermody, T Hickey, P O’Neill, W O’Connor, M Kavanagh, C Brennan, L Keoghan, P Larkin, P Barry, B McEvoy (0-2), A Comerford (0-3), DJ Carey (0-5), PJ Delaney, S Prendergast, C Carter (0-1)
Subs: N Maloney (1-0) for Prendergast 32 mins, K O’Shea for McEvoy 61.
Waterford: B Landers, T Feeney, S Cullinane, B Flannery, S Frampton, F Hartley, B Greene, T Browne (1-3), P Queally, D Shanahan (0-2), K McGrath, M White, S Daly, A Kirwan (0-1), P Flynn (0-3)
Subs: B O’Sullivan for White 25.
Referee: P O’Connor (Limerick).
THE entire GAA programme in Tyrone was called off yesterday in the wake of the Omagh bombing outrage.
All league and championship games, including the semi-final of the senior championship in which Omagh were due to play Donaghmore, were cancelled as a mark of respect to the victims and their families.