Young hurlers all over Ireland are now practicing 'The Shane Dowling' 3 weeks ago

Young hurlers all over Ireland are now practicing 'The Shane Dowling'

The real magic of sport is when these moments are created that transcend beyond the result.

Every so often, a player can rise above the winning and the losing of the game and do something that will stand the test of time. Results will be printed, the next round will be played and a new competition will start but, sometimes, these flashes of brilliance, pieces of inspiration or just some form of pure beauty can live on, regardless of what the scoreboard said.

Shane Dowling has pace, he has skill, nerve, accuracy and all the rest of the components that make him a fine hurler but he has fortitude too and that's what makes him a Limerick hero.

It's hard to be resigned to the bench so often especially when you're playing so well more often but the Na Piarsaigh man takes it on the chin for his county time and again and, when called upon, he delivers over and over.

Once more, in their hour of need, as Kilkenny were in the midst of finishing an ambush on the All-Ireland champions, John Kiely turned to the bench and asked for Dowling's help.

He got the help alright but the GAA world got so much more.

Seven minutes after being unleashed onto the plains of Croke Park, Dowling had thrown Limerick a lifeline and created a goal for the ages through nothing but pure instinct.

As he receives the sliotar in full flight, he's given it too late in relation to the last defender about to meet him.

Dowling doesn't have time to plan, he doesn't have space to readjust and he certainly doesn't have an option to just strike through conventionally and still hit the net.

Instinct takes over. Beautiful innovation is crafted in the time it takes him to make two steps and, from nowhere, Dowling has the audacity to rise the ball, lift his hurl and strike from the top down, over the head and into the bottom corner.

The skill to execute it is one thing, the boldness to dream it is another.

And, whilst Limerick ultimately fell short, whilst they went down fighting and had a gripe or two to point to in the end, whilst the curtain closes on this campaign for them with more hurling still to be played, nothing will ever take away from that Shane Dowling goal and none of that will have any fewer children blackening the greens of Ireland this Sunday trying it for themselves.

That's what the best players do. And that's what sport at its best does.