This handshake between the lion of so many hurling summers and his silver-winged onetime protégé has enchanted many who follow the ancient game.
The exchange only lasted a few seconds, but a further look at the photos and video shows that the post-game tension between Brian Cody and Henry Shefflin is almost irresistible.
Cody’s Kilkenny had been taken down by a last gasp Galway free. The grand old man of sport was cooking. He knew full well that there was more at stake than just another bitter battle on the pitch.
Shefflin wants his job. That’s why one of Kilkenny hurling’s greatest exponents decided to go out and make his name in another county.
After his retirement, he could have joined Cody’s inner circle — and waited before possibly succeeding the Messiah. But Shefflin is clearly not one to wait around. Like rugby player Ronan O’Gara, he has chosen to make his mark as a manager in his own way, in his time and in a different place.
And so the mask slipped in the cauldron after the game last Sunday for both men. There was no hiding the galloping emotions – one savoring the sweet taste of victory, the other the sour taste of defeat.
Old habits are hard to break. And so the former student approached the master for the ritual handshake after the game. The booty for the winner. It was easier for Shefflin to be merciful as he approached the granite-like but wounded form of Cody.
Both men were cold as ice. However, one had the feeling that if there had been even a half-smile from Cody, Shefflin would have returned it in kind.
His former manager was determined to dominate the stock market. Her hands clasped together for a jarring moment. Shefflin realized there would be no break from their newborn competitiveness, despite all their service years together.
For a fleeting second or two, Cody seemed to refuse to let go of Shefflin’s hand. It was the most embarrassing and revealing moment of the entire exchange. It stole the initiative from the Galway manager.
Shefflin’s face reflected a mixture of emotions. A kind of confusion overshadowed a sense of anger. His team had emerged victorious, but on that post-game minor, he’d been outsmarted.
Still, he looked like a man who will not find himself in the same situation again. Cody and Shefflin’s handshake will continue to be a form of power exchange going forward. The determination of one to impose his will on the other plays out on and off the pitch.
The psychology of sport – the role played by the inner well of the human heart – is often inexplicable and mysterious.
In another area, Katie Taylor’s courage and athleticism are for all to see, but the secret of her inner self, the urge for dominance, no one can truly know.
Boxers are programmed to search the furthest reaches of their psyches. Sometimes there is an addiction to that lonely place – the ring where fighters meet, a place where they can be happiest.
As is often the case in sports, even the smallest advantage can separate winners from losers. Taylor, in the classic sense of the word, held out during her Madison Square Garden fight last weekend.
Perhaps that superhuman sense of confidence and destiny got her over the border.
Something Yeats intoned – “the deep heart’s core” – will that be enough to keep fate on their side one more time?
We are told that the sports arena is a metaphor for life. Taylor’s recent showdown was a reminder of how the smallest difference can determine fate. Shefflin prevailed on the pitch – but only just.
Coincidence, half coincidence, circumstance. blood in the boxing ring On the hurling field a puck of the ball. Sometimes a timely nudge from Lady Luck. Human destiny is so often forged on such tiny edges.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/battle-of-hurlings-master-and-pupil-had-us-transfixed-41623678.html The master and the student of Battle of Hurling had us captivated