Few other people in hurling give anybody anything to talk about besides Davy.
What made the 1990s was that the key teams involved always gave people something to talk about. Clare, Offaly, Wexford, Limerick, Tipp with Babs in the early part of the decade, Galway in the late 1980s even.
Waterford were really the only team to carry that sort of thing forward into the 00s.
But has hurling grown? Cork are a mess. Limerick are still consistent under-achievers. Offaly have fallen away completely. Wexford are still struggling in real terms despite doing well in this league. Antrim are a complete joke, Laois are going nowhere.
Waterford and to a lesser extent Dublin are the only places where hurling has really grown in the last 20 years. Kilkenny and Tipp have just consolidated their already existing natural dominance.
What’s the current state of Dublin hurling? It’s better than it was for sure, but it still doesn’t attract much floating interest in Dublin. Few people who follow the Dublin footballers really give much of a damn about hurling. Few know the names of the players or recognise them, and that’s the case this year more than ever.
Until the Dublin senior team makes a proper breakthrough and gets people excited about going to their matches, and that hasn’t happened yet, any talk of hurling growing in Dublin is moot.
Like it or not the Balls.ie and Joe.ie demographic makes up a significant section of the Irish sporting public and it’s foolish to treat them as the enemy.
I don’t know what the line between promotion and whoring one’s self is, but hurling needs to recognise that self-promotion is important. It did that in the 90s but no longer does.
The recognisable figures in the game who had crossover appeal over the last 20-25 years were all legends who delivered when it counted, ie. Davy, Leahy, Mullane, Shanahan, O’ hAilpin, DJ Carey, Lar Corbett. Loughnane, Liam Griffin and then Davy again at managerial level. Cody and Shefflin became crossover figures through sheer longevity.
The point is there are loads of players now who consistently deliver when it counts but are barely known outside their counties or the core hurling public. That includes pretty much all of the current Tipp and Kilkenny teams.
Joe Canning is the only current player with any real crossover appeal. Austin Gleeson might have the potential to do so.
I don’t buy the line about other sports having “cretins who engage in self-advancement being labelled as legends”, with the implication that such people don’t deliver where it counts. I’m struggling to think of many, or even any.