The next few weeks in the hurling world could be dominated by two players who may not get the chance to play in the All-Ireland final.
Waterford’s Conor Gleeson is automatically under suspension following his late sending off in Sunday’s resounding 4-19 to 0-20 semi-final win over Cork at Croke Park.
He saw straight red following an off-the-ball incident, which also resulted in Rebels’ Patrick Horgan getting his marching orders.
Austin Gleeson didn’t attract referee James Owens’ attention, but he could find himself in hot water for a first half moment when he grabbed the face mask of Luke Meade’s helmet.
The GAA’s Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) could decide to review the incident and the current Hurler of the Year faces an anxious wait before he learns more about his involvement in the 3 September Liam MacCarthy Cup showdown with Galway.
Tadhg de Búrca was sent off in the quarter-final win over Wexford for pulling the face mask of Harry Kehoe, earning himself an automatic one-match ban that Waterford unsuccessfully fought all the way to the Disputes Resolution Authority, who only passed judgement in the early hours of last Friday morning. He sat out the defeat of Cork.
Galway’s Adrian Tuohy appeared to do something similar in the Tribesmen’s semi-final win over Tipperary, though referee Barry Kelly took no action at the time and the CCCC decided not to pursue the case.
The unpredictable nature of these things mean that Aussie Gleeson will know no certainty over whether he’s in or out for a few days to come.
It would be a shame if the All-Ireland final that the neutrals wanted once the semi-final pairings were known was to be overshadowed by constant chatter over the disciplinary process.
One county is going to end a long All-Ireland drought - Galway haven’t brought the big prize back across the Shannon since 1988 and for Waterford you have to go even further back for their last win in 1959.
That’s a combined 87 years so whoever wins, it’s going to be a great story and there’s going to be some party.
What makes what has already been a fascinating season even more interesting is that none of hurling’s big three, Kilkenny, Cork and Tipperary, are left. This will be the first time since 1996 that at least one of them hasn’t been involved in an All-Ireland final.
Having lost to provincial champions Cork in a Munster semi-final, Waterford were a team on a mission.
Without De Búrca they used Shane Fives as their sweeper, a role he filled confidently, and Cork found it hard to think their way around him.
Michael Walsh set them up with a goal after just three minutes, though they struggled to shake off the Rebels.
The game swung when Cork full-back Damien Cahalane got his second yellow card on 51 minutes with his side a point up and what had been a tense, tight affair was blown open.
Austin Gleeson, scorer of 1-02 in the second half, Conor Gleeson, a player described by selector Dan Shanahan as ‘saucy’, Kevin Moran and Jamie Barron, who scored two late goals, were allowed a little more space against 14 men and they made the most of it.
Shanahan, whose brother Maurice grabbed two points off the bench, was as much involved in this game as anyone else.
His opposite number from Cork is Diarmuid O’Sullivan and they reprised their playing days, full-forward against full-back along the sideline and even on the pitch. At one stage the referee threatened to put them into the stands if they didn’t cool it.
It was just one compelling thread to what was an incident-packed All-Ireland semi-final. Three sendings-off, four goals, 43 scores and the underdogs through - this was a hell of an afternoon enjoyed by more than 72,000 fans at Croke Park.