When Galway defeated Tipperary in the 1988 All-Ireland final, the defining score of that game was Noel Lane's late goal. It was clinically finished by Lane but it was hurling in its purest form.

After a John Commins puckout broke in the middle of the field, Tony Kilkenny whipped on the sliotar first time to drive it straight into Lane, who won the physical exchange with Conor O'Donovan, before kicking the ball ahead of himself and driving a ground shot past Ken Hogan.

Hurling was different back then. In that match, there were 98 ground balls played. When Galway finally bridged a 29-year gap last September, ground hurling was non-existent in the final against Waterford.

Players have never been more skilful but the game has changed so much that many of the old traditional skills are redundant in hurling now.

First-time, or ground hurling, isn't coached anymore. Possession is king but since there is little or no room for randomness anymore, the game has lost some of that aesthetic beauty. That's why a goal like Fergal Whitely's ground bullet on Sunday against Kilkenny was such a treasure.

After Eoin Murphy saved a rocket from Paul Ryan, Whitely let fly on the loose sliotar from 13 metres and drove it into the roof of the net.

Hurling has seen very few such scores in recent big championship games.

Kilkenny's Eddie Brennan similarly connected on the loose sliotar after a Clinton Hennessy save in the 2008 All-Ireland final and Richie Hogan buried one from the deck when the Cats were chasing a lost cause against Tipperary in the 2016 decider.

Hurling's two greatest scores - Jimmy Barry-Murphy's overhead double against Galway in 1983, and John Fenton's ground-bullet against Limerick in 1987 - will probably never be seen again.

Those skills aren't coached anymore.

Players wouldn't even consider attempting those shots because it's not playing the percentages but Whitely showed there is still a place for the skill, especially around the goal. And even more so when close-in ground shots are a nightmare for goalkeepers.

"The keeper doesn't have that same opportunity with a ground stroke but those shots are also much harder to read"

The modern player will always be programmed into thinking possession is king but one of the key errors forwards often make is picking the ball close to goal, it invariably gives the goalkeeper that fraction of time to move forward, narrow the angle and get his or her body in front of the ball.

The keeper doesn't have that same opportunity with a ground stroke but those shots are also much harder to read. And if a forward makes the right connection, like Whitely did, the power is devastating.

The skill is harder to execute when players don't practise it anymore. They also may not have the confidence to try it but practising it outside of collective training has a number of advantages, especially in a ball alley.

For a start, letting fly on the ball - like a one-player game of squash or racquet-ball - is brilliant for timing, especially to get 'the eye in', while it's also excellent for footwork.

And more importantly, it conditions the player into thinking that when that ball pops up, or is loose around the goal - especially with a phalanx of defenders swarming back (there were four Kilkenny defenders and Murphy between Whitely and the goal) - the best option is to just let fly.

Read Christy O'Connor's new skills and coaching column every Monday on RTÉ.ie/sport and the News Now App.