Yesterday's game won't top any future listicles of best All-Ireland finals but in its dramatic crescendo it offered a fitting conclusion to the 2018 All-Ireland championship.

Galway were bizarrely under the weather for most of the game but, inspired by Joe Canning in probably his best All-Ireland final performance to date, they rallied to give us the by now obligatory heart-stopping finish.   

After Canning fired that perfect 21 metre free into the left corner of the Canal End net to reduce the margin to two points, one Limerick woman behind me cupped her face in her hands (just below the eyes) and kept them there for much of the rest of injury time. 

All the cocky exuberance of earlier in the game gone, she looked like she was ready to puke.

There's no doubt that had Limerick contrived to throw it away, it would have been a terribly cruel way to lose an All-Ireland final. For a county with such a vivid memory of similar heartbreak, it might have been close to unbearable. Coming on top of 1994, it would have been just too much. 

Even the most rational-minded of Limerick fans would have probably gone away from Croke Park believing in curses.

In the end, it made the release of the final whistle all the sweeter. 

It was an appropriate conclusion to what was by common consensus, and even allowing for recency bias, the most thrilling hurling championship of them all. 

How much of this is down to the format?

Is it possible we'd have gotten this every year had we not stuck with the knockout system for so long?

How many great games have we missed out on because we persisted with an antiquated 'less is more' format for years and years?

Cork and Limerick's meeting in Pairc Ui Chaoimh in early June was one of the highlights of the round robin phase

For God sake, for most of the 20th century, Galway began their championship campaign in the All-Ireland semi-final (contrary to popular belief, this was not much an 'advantage' at all).

Maybe this will just be the norm from now on. In the closing segment of RTÉ's 'The Game' documentary, Derek McGrath flatly informed us that the game of hurling was going to get better and we needed to realise that. 

Players' conditioning and technique would evolve to such a level that dazzling games would be par for the course. 

Hurling people may have to re-calibrate their expectations of what constitutes a great championship lest they walk around in a daze of delirium every year. 

Football people who come from hurling-free zones are already getting a bit chippy about it all. Indulging in hurling snobbery may be cliche but in 2018 complaining about hurling snobbery became just as much a cliche. 

Even the most rational-minded of Limerick fans would have probably gone away from Croke Park believing in curses.

Other folk seemed to become a bit jaded by the sheer volume of great matches. 

In the wake of the Cork-Limerick semi-final, when scores were zinging over at an absurd rate, some contrarians even wondered whether the game had actually become too high scoring. 

The argument - which found plenty of supporters - had some merit and was made with some flair on this website.

But there are certainly worse problems to have. 

As gripes go, 'this hurling game is too high scoring' is very much in the 'my wallet is too small for my fifties' mould. My diamond shoes are too tight, etc, etc. 

In the same way that complaints about gentrification are taken as a sign of a very advanced society, complaints about hurling becoming too high scoring do seem to indicate the game is in very rude health altogether. 

Perhaps more important than the format was the fact that the competition this year was so even, especially in Munster.

It's telling that of all the games people raved about in the round robin, all bar the Kilkenny-Wexford game in Nowlan Park were in the southern province. 

Tipperary and Waterford, the most consistent performers in Munster for the past decade, were both off-colour in 2018, the latter the result of a crippling injury crisis, the former for reasons that remain somewhat obscure.

Tipperary fans watching their draw with Waterford in the Gaelic Grounds

Clare returned to form after years of underwhelming in championship. 

Cork upped it a level this year, collecting a second successive Munster championship under the allegedly old-school management of John Meyler. 

While Limerick, who exited the 2017 championship far off Broadway and before every other serious hurling county, emerged from the back of the peloton to win the whole bloody kaboodle, ending a drought of 45 years in the process.

With the Munster quintet all seeming, at least at the outset, to converge at the same level, the result was a sequence of nerve-jangling finales and dramatic comebacks.

There were only a few bum notes, most notably Limerick's blitzing of Waterford in the Gaelic Grounds and then Kiely's team's no-show in Ennis. 

With Tipperary still boasting the firepower to get back to the top table and Waterford unlikely to suffer the same wretched luck, 2019 promises an even more democratic competition.

Democracy could be at the heart of it. 

What connects the present era to hurling's other glorious dawn in the mid-1990s is that the big three were kept away from the grand prize.   

Only eight times in the past 60 years has the All-Ireland final not contained one of the big three. Two of those have happened in the last two years. It happened three years in a row in the mid-90s. 

It can't be coincidental. The hype machine only clicks into top gear in those years when the aristocrats are deposed.   

We're in hurling the revolution years mark II. 

Undoubtedly, the high water mark of hurling mania was All-Ireland semi-final weekend on 28/29 July. Galway v Clare and Cork v Limerick served up 180 minutes of dizzying fare over two days. It all almost became too much for people.

By the end of the second game that weekend, the drama had gotten so regular it was in danger of becoming passé to some people. 'I'm getting bored of these dramatic endings' was a quote doing the rounds in contrary circles.

It got to be hard to keep track of it all. In what other year would the Cork-Limerick match in Páirc Uí Chaoimh - a 1-26 apiece thriller - have been excluded from the end of season shortlist of best games?

The convergence of factors from the jazzy new format, the evenness of the competitors, the heart-stopping closeness of so many games, and the ever-increasing skill levels of this new generation of hurlers helped make this the most exciting championship that anyone can remember.  

If Derek McGrath and Ger Loughnane are to be believed, it will only get better.