John 'Hotpoint' Hayes in action for Tipp.
The soundbites are unpleasant as thirty years of continuous service ends abruptly
It's only a week since our last The View column and in that time the whole picture has changed dramatically.
We've had a massive storm in Tipperary - and I'm not referring to Ophelia this time. Yes, the departure of John 'Hotpoint' Hayes as kitman with the Tipperary senior hurling team has caused quite a stir. The Upperchurch Drombane man - fellow clubman of County Board Chairman Michael Bourke and Tipp senior Manager Michael Ryan, has been involved in five of The Premier County's All-Ireland winning campaigns since he jumped on board with Michael Babs Keating in 1986. In total, he has been involved in eleven All-Ireland senior finals and he also worked with the minors, the u-21's intermediates and camogie teams in the past as well.
By any stretch of the imagination his contribution has been enormous - he was essentially doing all those unseen jobs and doing them very well. But, all good things come to an end - sadly, the ending in this case has resulted in much negative press for Tipperary mainly due to the manner in which it was handled. It is difficult to hear a man who has given as much saying that he would not go back now, even if he was approached on bended knee. His comments in the national press, though difficult to read for the light in which they paint Tipperary, illustrate his hurt at the present time.
What's behind it all? Tipperary are endeavouring to circle the wagons and keep the camp as tight knit, as tight lipped and as close as possible. The backroom team, as well as the panel has been trimmed - Hotpoint is just one of the casualties. If there's more to it, as with all Hotpoint appliances, it will surely come out in the wash.
Tipp will want a much more quiet approach to the coming season. Last season saw a lot of commentary on social media as story after story emerged - the vast majority of them untrue, exaggerated and embellished greatly. No Manager wishes to have this going on and it's a point Michael Ryan will be hammering home to all players and backroom team members from the get-go. Keep the head down and the work moving - keep the fingers off the keyboards and the mobiles, and the mouths shut.
The fields of Tipperary have been rightly washed and battered over the last few days. Many clubs across the Premier County are counting the cost of Hurricane Ophelia with nets, goalposts, structural damage and signage having been ripped through on Monday. It will take time for all the damage to be assessed and for all the necessary repairs to be made and it will cost clubs money - exactly what they don't need as the season comes towards its conclusion.
Pitch conditions have also changed dramatically in a week and winter fare will be the order of the championship from here on in. Sarsfields can expect heavy conditions in Walsh Park on Sunday week next when they tackle the Waterford champions - Ballygunner are raging hot favourites to match the Blues by doing four-in-a-row. And, Clonmel Commercials will find the same going when they rumble with Dr Crokes of Kerry on the same day.
The heavy pitches will require different characteristics from different players. It will require digging in, grinding out possession and taking every possible chance which emerges. It will require winning dirty ball, throwing in the bones and being willing to fight to the very death to win turnovers. In heavy conditions, pitches become smaller and it's easier to land hits - that means that players must be prepared to take the punishment, take on opponents and show far greater aggression than would perhaps be necessary in top-of-the-ground conditions when pace and speed can take the sliothar away from contact - to some extent anyway.
The only consolation, as players contemplate the changing conditions, is that underfoot will be the same for all teams. The game might be played in the trenches now, but at least they'll all be in the trenches together.
The games will be different, but intriguing nonetheless.