i) Kilkenny generally weren’t involved.
ii) There were recognisable figures who weren’t afraid to talk themselves up, ie. Loughnane, Liam Griffin, Anthony Daly.
iii) There were recognisable figures who had mercurial genius, ie. Ciaran Carey, John Troy, John Leahy, Martin Storey, even DJ Carey (Kilkenny).
iv) There were recognisable figures who weren’t afraid to lower the blade in a spectacular way, ie. Colin Lynch, Michael Duignan, Daithi Regan, Liam Dunne.
v) There were storylines that were accessible to the neutral, ie. Clare and Wexford’s breakthrough’s, Offaly’s brilliant insouciance, Limerick’s Jimmy White-esque snatching of defeat from the jaws of victory.
vi) You genuinely didn’t know who was going to reach the All-Ireland final.
vii) There was a greater variety in terms of setting for big matches. Virtually no match of real consequence is decided outside Croke Park or Thurles now.
viii) There was less cyncism in terms of what matches mattered. Every match mattered. No such a thing as picking a scratch team for a league quarter-final.
ix) This is unrepeatable but live TV as far as the whole championship was concerned was in its infancy and was a real novelty at the time. Same with the new Croke Park. There was a real feeling of change surrounding both the hurling and football championships.
x) Guinness’s sponsorship of the hurling championship genuinely broke new ground in terms of how sport in Ireland was promoted and tied perfectly into the zeitgeist of the time. The GAA hasn’t come close to having a marketing campaign as effective since.