Mikey Butler's honourable man-marking job a reminder that you don't have to be a so and so
Kilkenny 1-25 Clare 1-22
Mikey Butler gives Tony Kelly the slip.
Kelly is effing and blinding, you pup, you pup, you pup, he's pumping legs, burning oil, hunting hard, but it doesn't make a difference.
Butler has a yard, and that's all he needs.
We've all been in Tony Kelly's position before, chasing but it's in vein, working but it's deep in your heart, it's deep in your mind, we are up a cursed creek.
The Ballyea man doesn't have time to stop and think. Lucky for him. If he did, the first thought he would think is what the hell is going on here? I'm supposed to be the danger man, he's supposed to be the man-marker - keep the bad thoughts at bay.
Butler throws a dummy to shake off the encroaching Conor Cleary. He's 30 yards out now, fresh as a daisy, this is what it feels like to have 50,000 people in the palm of your hand.
From the hill to the canal, across to the Cusack, they're all thinking it, what a blow this would be for Kelly - the Kilkenny fans are ready to rumble.
For once, Butler lets them down.
He hits a measly shot wide and reminds us, although it looks like he could play anywhere, he's actually a corner back. The scoreboard may not have changed but neither does the fact: Clare are on the back foot, Kelly is on the back foot.
It's 45 minutes later, the sun has come out , two goals have been scored, the game has boiled up, boiled down and we are all deep in a melting pot.
Somewhere through the bubbles you will see it, and it tells the story of the day that Clare hands are over eyes because, it's finishing as it started, it's deja vu, 2022 back to you, Tony Kelly is chasing Mikey Butler again.
This time the corner back isn't going for point, maybe it's the madness of youth, he's going for goal.
The ball skids away before he can pull the trigger but it skids into Eoin Cody's path. Talk about the right man. Talk about the wrong man.
He is punching the air within seconds because he has scored for the sixth time today. There is 1-5 to his name and while Colm Lyons' final whistle hasn't yet sounded, there is a general consensus, all around the ground, before televisions in pubs and houses, Clare have been beaten.
Peter Duggan almost saves the day - the Clooney Quin player was phenomenal, and his last-gasp snapshot would have drawn the whole thing up. But Eoin Murphy is equal to it, with one of the best saves you’ll ever see.
And the final whistle is blown.
Mikey Butler doesn't have to go out of his way to shake Tony Kelly's hand, he's been beside him all day, but the respect between the pair is clear. This was an honourable battle.
In fact, going back to the first break, all the way up to that last break, it doesn't appear that a bad word has been said, a bad stroke hasn't been pulled between them.
Kelly had his moments too. He never went missing and he contributed to some of Clare’s best moves, but he just couldn’t get free, couldn’t get going like he usually does.
That was because of the young man with four on his back,
When you think of man-markers, you're inclined to think of pulled jerseys, exchanged words, and darkened arts. But Butler is clean as a whistle. He hasn't been standing on Tony Kelly's heels. Hasn't been tugging his jersey and, even after winning the small battles, hasn't been shouting in his ear.
There's honour in that.
E Quilligan; A Hogan, C Cleary, R Hayes; D Ryan, J Conlon, D McInerney (0-1); Seadna Morey, C Malone (0-1), D Fitzgerald (0-3); P Duggan (0-1), T Kelly, R Taylor (0-1), S O'Donnell (1-1), M Rodgers (0-10, 0-3 65, 0-5 free)
Subs: David Reidy (0-1) for Ryan Taylor (32), Ian Galvin (0-1) for Seadna Morey (HT), Aron Shanagher for Reidy (70)
E Murphy; M Butler, H Lawlor (0-1), T Walsh; D Blanchfield, R Reid, P Deegan (0-1); C Fogarty, A Mullen (0-2); T Phelan (0-1), M Keoghan, J Donnelly; B Ryan (0-1), TJ Reid (0-12, 0-11f, 0-1 sideline), E Cody (1-5).
Subs: Walter Walsh for Mossy Keoghan (45), Cian Kenny (0-1) for John Donnelly (53), Cillian Buckley for Conor Fogarty (55) Padraig Walsh (0-1) for Ryan (68)
- Henry Shefflin gives honest interview after Limerick beat Galway
- Gillane gets the goals as Galway sent on the long road home
- "I was definitely nervous" Michael Murphy opens up on transition from player to pundit