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What Can Be Done To Save Offaly Hurling

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I can recall a time before when Offaly didn't feature as a hurling county. I can just about remember as a young lad seeing them lose out narrowly in a Leinster final. That was the first time I saw a player score a point direct from a sideline ball. Paddy Molloy, I think!. I remember after he scored he turned to the crowd and grinned. That was it basically until 1980 when they arrived on the big stage. They got the breaks, Kilkenny underestimating them in 80, Galway self-imploding in 81, which allowed them to go and prove they had fantastic hurlers and were as good as anyone. The meandering point I'm making is Offaly were never a consistently top level competing county anyway. Back to back relegations probably made the descent harder to take and cause disillusionment.
My belief and hope is they'll be back soon. The history is there now, so is the desire. All they need is a crop of good players. There must be 2nd and 3rd generation Coughlans, Flahertys, Bergins, Whelehans and Dooley's knocking around ?

Maroonatic (Galway) - Posts: 972 - 15/02/2021 10:27:09    2331422

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Replying To Maroonatic:  "I can recall a time before when Offaly didn't feature as a hurling county. I can just about remember as a young lad seeing them lose out narrowly in a Leinster final. That was the first time I saw a player score a point direct from a sideline ball. Paddy Molloy, I think!. I remember after he scored he turned to the crowd and grinned. That was it basically until 1980 when they arrived on the big stage. They got the breaks, Kilkenny underestimating them in 80, Galway self-imploding in 81, which allowed them to go and prove they had fantastic hurlers and were as good as anyone. The meandering point I'm making is Offaly were never a consistently top level competing county anyway. Back to back relegations probably made the descent harder to take and cause disillusionment.
My belief and hope is they'll be back soon. The history is there now, so is the desire. All they need is a crop of good players. There must be 2nd and 3rd generation Coughlans, Flahertys, Bergins, Whelehans and Dooley's knocking around ?"
Offaly lost the 1969 Leinster Final to Kilkenny by 2 points, 3-9 to 0-16. Before that Offaly were not a force in hurling, Offaly were seen as a football county, having made the breakthrough in 1960.
Kilkenny were the big movers, lots of people in Offaly admired them, and I recall seeing pictures of Kilkenny teams in houses during the 1960s.

From 1980 to 2000, Offaly had their golden era. It was based on underage development which is the way forward for us here in Offaly.
Limerick, Clare and Waterford to mention a few, have all enjoyed underage success down the years, it has helped to keep those teams competitive. We took our eye off the ball for a while, but things are starting to look up now, with a postponed Leinster Leinster minor hurling final to be played.

MicktheMiller (Offaly) - Posts: 214 - 15/02/2021 11:07:03    2331428

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i think surely upon surely Offaly have reached their lowest ebb at this stage and the only way is up from here on in. i originally thought the lowest ebb was Westmeath hammering them in 2016 in the leinster but then it got worse in with successive relegations down the tiers of the Hurling. Surely they will win the christy Ring in 2021, they cant slip up again can they?? You never know i suppose they dont really have quality hurlers at the min unless Eoghan Cahill or Kelly from Belmont. The Underage seems to have taken a turn for the Better though.
The club structure has fallen apart the last 15 years or so. Back then you had three grades of junior, A,B,C Nowadays there is barely a junior B championship with some teams barely able to field. Where once you had Hurling clubs there is none now, Shannonbridge, Daingean, Ballyfore, Rhode, St Brigids all had clubs at some stage in junior and Edenderry have barely only gone back into Junior B along with Gracefield. That leaves a fairly sizeable chunk of the population west of Tullamore not hurling. and another worrying sign whats happening, Ballyskenach amalgamating with Killavilla (making up a poor enough intermediate) i know two small clubs but Ballyskenach reached the senior final in 2003 so numbers have dwindled hugely. Clodaigh Gaels is another team (Killurin and Killeigh) that shouldnt really be amalgamating but it has to be done for the moment. The whole underage was abandoned in the 90s and it has been shown up now.

preddan (Kildare) - Posts: 519 - 15/02/2021 14:27:21    2331456

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Replying To preddan:  "i think surely upon surely Offaly have reached their lowest ebb at this stage and the only way is up from here on in. i originally thought the lowest ebb was Westmeath hammering them in 2016 in the leinster but then it got worse in with successive relegations down the tiers of the Hurling. Surely they will win the christy Ring in 2021, they cant slip up again can they?? You never know i suppose they dont really have quality hurlers at the min unless Eoghan Cahill or Kelly from Belmont. The Underage seems to have taken a turn for the Better though.
The club structure has fallen apart the last 15 years or so. Back then you had three grades of junior, A,B,C Nowadays there is barely a junior B championship with some teams barely able to field. Where once you had Hurling clubs there is none now, Shannonbridge, Daingean, Ballyfore, Rhode, St Brigids all had clubs at some stage in junior and Edenderry have barely only gone back into Junior B along with Gracefield. That leaves a fairly sizeable chunk of the population west of Tullamore not hurling. and another worrying sign whats happening, Ballyskenach amalgamating with Killavilla (making up a poor enough intermediate) i know two small clubs but Ballyskenach reached the senior final in 2003 so numbers have dwindled hugely. Clodaigh Gaels is another team (Killurin and Killeigh) that shouldnt really be amalgamating but it has to be done for the moment. The whole underage was abandoned in the 90s and it has been shown up now."
Shannonbridge is in West Offaly, bordering Roscommon. The other clubs are the other side of Tullamore, heading towards Edenderry on the Kildare border. Clodiagh Gaels in Killeigh parish, represent the whole parish, not just Killeigh and Killurin.

There is still junior hurling in the county, Edenderry used draw players from the wider North Offaly area, they reformed the hurling side recently, good to see it.
Agree about underage hurling, but things are looking up recently, so fingers crossed. Winning Christy Ring should be the priority, but is not automatic. League promotion is a target.

MicktheMiller (Offaly) - Posts: 214 - 15/02/2021 15:14:28    2331463

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Replying To Oldtourman:  "Twelve years ago, Martin Brehony wrote an article, in which he put forward what his views were on the state of hurling in the so called 'main' hurling counties. He rated Limerick about number 10 and said, as far as I can recall, that hurling was only hanging on in the county 'in hardy outcrops'. His assessment was brutal but factual. In threads like this our side were freely called chokers, also rans and a crowd that could not win a game in Croke Park. Munster Rugby was rampant and the Gaelic Football team was competitive and indeed it appeared that hurling was slowly but surely dying in the county. However when the right people got to work that trend was slowly reversed. Goes to show what can be done."
Or maybe goes to show that my dogs know more about hurling than Breheny

Viking66 (Wexford) - Posts: 1449 - 15/02/2021 21:49:21    2331498

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Replying To Viking66:  "Or maybe goes to show that my dogs know more about hurling than Breheny"
12 years ago you would've been around on a par with Clare and Galway and ahead of ourselves, Dublin and Offaly. So you wouldve been around 6th.

Viking66 (Wexford) - Posts: 1449 - 16/02/2021 09:06:18    2331517

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Replying To Viking66:  "12 years ago you would've been around on a par with Clare and Galway and ahead of ourselves, Dublin and Offaly. So you wouldve been around 6th."
Well I can see where you are coming from, but we had a players strike around that time, after a savage beating by Tipp in a semi final. Once famous clubs like Ahane, Fedamore St Patricks and Claughaun among others, had faded off the hurling landscape, the game was dead only to wash it in the city and in all our major towns the situation was no better. Added to all that Rugby was flying and Football was also on the up. The outlook for hurling had never looked worse and I even remember people saying that we were ore likely to win a Football title that a hurling one, although I knew we would win a football one.

Oldtourman (Limerick) - Posts: 2771 - 16/02/2021 11:10:07    2331528

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I played hurling in college with 2 lads from Offaly who were on their county minor team. They could barely make the freshers panel and never made Fitzgibbon panel.

What can be done? Its hard to know. I have heard their underage teams are improve, but the target for Offaly now has to be to get back into Liam McCarthy cup and be competitive in it.

But everything coming out of Offaly in recent years has been blame somebody or something else. Playing in Tullamore was supposedly a problem at one stage. To be fair to Brian Carroll and a few others, they have championed Offaly's cause and done what they could. Others have tweeted, blamed, etc.

Wexford never fell as low as Offaly thankfully but the wake up call was a minor defeat to Carlow around 2005-2006. It took 15 years to win another Leinster after it. It won't be quick for Offaly to come back, that is for sure.

StoreysTash (Wexford) - Posts: 984 - 16/02/2021 11:23:49    2331531

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the offaly team of the 80sand 90s were a one off , some of the greatest hurlers to grace the game . but that is all they were , no structures were put in place

mickcunningham (Westmeath) - Posts: 1294 - 16/02/2021 14:16:54    2331553

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Replying To StoreysTash:  "I played hurling in college with 2 lads from Offaly who were on their county minor team. They could barely make the freshers panel and never made Fitzgibbon panel.

What can be done? Its hard to know. I have heard their underage teams are improve, but the target for Offaly now has to be to get back into Liam McCarthy cup and be competitive in it.

But everything coming out of Offaly in recent years has been blame somebody or something else. Playing in Tullamore was supposedly a problem at one stage. To be fair to Brian Carroll and a few others, they have championed Offaly's cause and done what they could. Others have tweeted, blamed, etc.

Wexford never fell as low as Offaly thankfully but the wake up call was a minor defeat to Carlow around 2005-2006. It took 15 years to win another Leinster after it. It won't be quick for Offaly to come back, that is for sure."
Carlow minors beat Offaly that year, led by a certain Padraig Amond, now with Newport County in League 2 of the Football League. There was a debate here about, playing hurling semi finals in Tullamore, rather than Birr, as if that was the problem. It was just being parochial, but the County Board stuck to their guns, Tullamore is the county ground for finals. Birr a fine ground, with it's own unique atmosphere, is being developed, and maybe it will get to hold knock out games again. I am from the northern part of Offaly, but travelled all over the county to hurling and football matches. Sorry for rambling on there.

I think there was an idea in Offaly, that with the right manager, whoever that elusive person is, and our past, everything will come right. It applied to football too, but we have to live in the now, and it isn't fair to criticise our hurlers who are putting in the effort in their clubs, during the pandemic.

There are signs of improvement at underage presently, and I hope it carries on to Senior. Offaly are underrepresented at third level admittedly, compared to our neighbours, and other counties, apart from Podge Guinan Fitzgibbon Cup teams with UCD.
UCD. Possibly Shane Kinsella too, but someone will confirm that.

We all have to be patient, and help out in whatever way we can for the good of the game. Interesting to hear so many positive comments about Offaly.

MicktheMiller (Offaly) - Posts: 214 - 16/02/2021 15:29:38    2331565

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Replying To MicktheMiller:  "Carlow minors beat Offaly that year, led by a certain Padraig Amond, now with Newport County in League 2 of the Football League. There was a debate here about, playing hurling semi finals in Tullamore, rather than Birr, as if that was the problem. It was just being parochial, but the County Board stuck to their guns, Tullamore is the county ground for finals. Birr a fine ground, with it's own unique atmosphere, is being developed, and maybe it will get to hold knock out games again. I am from the northern part of Offaly, but travelled all over the county to hurling and football matches. Sorry for rambling on there.

I think there was an idea in Offaly, that with the right manager, whoever that elusive person is, and our past, everything will come right. It applied to football too, but we have to live in the now, and it isn't fair to criticise our hurlers who are putting in the effort in their clubs, during the pandemic.

There are signs of improvement at underage presently, and I hope it carries on to Senior. Offaly are underrepresented at third level admittedly, compared to our neighbours, and other counties, apart from Podge Guinan Fitzgibbon Cup teams with UCD.
UCD. Possibly Shane Kinsella too, but someone will confirm that.

We all have to be patient, and help out in whatever way we can for the good of the game. Interesting to hear so many positive comments about Offaly."
Offaly played hurling with a larger than life bunch of characters and there was a great buzz around them in the 90s and while I didnt see the great team of the 80s playing live I heard the same about that team too. They were great for hurling countrywide not just in Offaly. So of course most hurling fans would have a positive feeling towards them.

Viking66 (Wexford) - Posts: 1449 - 16/02/2021 19:24:52    2331601

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While it is true that Offaly hurling has dropped down the levels at an alarming rate I still think that under all this doom and gloom there little snippets from the recent past that give cause for some optimism. Their minor team is respectable, and occasionally their seniors have shown that they 'can play a bit'. On Saturday 27 January 2018 they gave Dublin a right hiding in the League in Croke Park beating them I recollect by about 13 points while scoring a huge haul of points, why am I so specific. I was in hospital that evening for observation following a small accident and was a little surprised, it was a false dawn but nevertheless a good result.
What brought about the decline? The loss of the college in Birr has to be huge. And I think the economic decline from 2008 on has caused a serious decline of the young population especially in rural South Offaly. Earlier posters commented on club amalgamations. This won't be easily reversed either as the current Green agenda is about to wage war virtually all over Offaly but most severely in central Offaly where the traditional hurling and football areas meet around Kilcormack to Belmont and Ferbane with the closure of Bord Na Mona works. So it won't be easy unless there is a clear policy change by Central Government to spread industrial development on an equal footing to the whole country and not on the periphery of Dublin or more especially to positively discriminate in favour of areas outside the M50.
It is just possible that our mandarins may have learned something from the present pandemic where it has been established that remote workers can deliver.

MillerX (Meath) - Posts: 788 - 16/02/2021 21:04:58    2331614

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I misread the title of this thread, thought it said' what can be done to save hurling', I don't think I've ever watched a full hurling match start to finish, can't understand why people think it's such a great game, all I hear is TJ DJ AJ etc etc, very hard to understand what the pundits are saying in the studio either, I'd nearly need the subtitles on,
you can't see the players faces with the helmets on and you can hardly see the ball it moves so fast, they can score from almost anywhere and I have to take the commentators word for it because unless they show a camera shot from behind the goals it's hard to know where the ball went. Rugby is too slow and hurling is too fast,
Gaelic football is the Goldilocks game for me.

Tirchonaill1 (Donegal) - Posts: 1224 - 16/02/2021 22:00:44    2331623

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Replying To Tirchonaill1:  "I misread the title of this thread, thought it said' what can be done to save hurling', I don't think I've ever watched a full hurling match start to finish, can't understand why people think it's such a great game, all I hear is TJ DJ AJ etc etc, very hard to understand what the pundits are saying in the studio either, I'd nearly need the subtitles on,
you can't see the players faces with the helmets on and you can hardly see the ball it moves so fast, they can score from almost anywhere and I have to take the commentators word for it because unless they show a camera shot from behind the goals it's hard to know where the ball went. Rugby is too slow and hurling is too fast,
Gaelic football is the Goldilocks game for me."
Lol, the goldilocks game, I love it hahaha.
I'm deeply fond of both and love seeing the games thrive, whatever code prevails in a given county, but between the two it's hurling all day for me.

Galway9801 (Galway) - Posts: 387 - 16/02/2021 23:26:15    2331638

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Replying To MicktheMiller:  "Shannonbridge is in West Offaly, bordering Roscommon. The other clubs are the other side of Tullamore, heading towards Edenderry on the Kildare border. Clodiagh Gaels in Killeigh parish, represent the whole parish, not just Killeigh and Killurin.

There is still junior hurling in the county, Edenderry used draw players from the wider North Offaly area, they reformed the hurling side recently, good to see it.
Agree about underage hurling, but things are looking up recently, so fingers crossed. Winning Christy Ring should be the priority, but is not automatic. League promotion is a target."
from someone who hurled myself, the biggest mistake I see made in Offaly hurling was the "doing away with Senior B and bringing in Junior"...late 1980s I was a teenager, not good enough for Senior A, I was but I was with top club and surrounded by county stars at the time, we were training twice a week with these county players plus the top players from the club, there was a great buzz about training, you certainly couldnt "slouch" a session with such high profile players around you, for training matches you were in a line on the team where you had to be "on the ball" as was expected from you...challenge games were often the only time you might get a few run out (thankfully that has changed for all grades I think)

Junior was then brought in, and with it the "junior" tag, lads who were not committed to he high profile senior training were suddenly back on the field (for a while anyway until they got bored) for separate training from the seniors..these players were good players too but not committed...junior matches came and by best players, yes some of these were first on the sheet, if we won, it was an evenings drinking for them (and the next day for some of them) Tuesdays training night came around and no sign of these great players at all..a puck around before another game at the weekend on the Friday night, and they might appear...junior was slowly beginning to be the "joke" grade.."ah sure the lads are mad, they were on the **** the night before the match"..this went on for another 5/6 years while I stayed hurling, we were cut away from the Senior panel, in fairness the trainers etc. put in a good effort as did around 7/8 of us who were hurling with the schools and the Seniors and knew what was required to be committed. Final straw came for me was going to 2 matches in a row, left on the line, one of our junior stars turned up without gear 10 minutes after match starting time, was sent home to get his gear and was put in for second half...that is only one example..at 25 years of age, I was working ful time too and helping out in the farm at home, but never missed a training session, never missed a match, stayed on on the pitch well after training, doing our own training the 7/8 of us that were decendents so to speak from the Senior A & B system..these other lads were no where to be seen...need I say one by one we all drifted away, totally bewildered by what had befallen us...sibblings of other players then opted out immediately after underage, looking first hand at the level of Junior committment that was in my club anyway (I cant speak for all clubs) and anway, our club fell well well down the ladder in senior sucess, some top underage players came and went, some never even pucked a ball at senior level..

I know the country changed alot then over the 1990's and 2000's with various things etc. but in my view, the structure was changed in late 1980's when it was serving Offaly well, many good club hurers got dissalussioned with Junior (it wasnt taken serious from what I seen our club) and players while maybe not good enough for Senior did fall away and the Junior grade was not respected enough by some of the players playing...players wont hang around for ever looking at that..I didnt..I stayed 5/6 years which was too long looking back, but one always hopes I suppose..all that ship has well and truly sailed now, and we are where we are...I see underage and most grades now, committment is expected and respected and reewarded (even if its 10/15 minutes in a challenge game)..anyway..thats my take on where I seen Offaly hurling unfold in part, the economic and other reasons no doubt didn also contribute. Mentioning top hurlers above, Cahill from Birr and Kelly from Belmont mentioned, fair enough, good hurlers, but sure Cillian Kiely (bit older I know) and Ben Coneely are the recognised stars of our current panel, they deliver day in day out for Offaly and have been by far our most consistant hurlers over the last few years...Kelly is no doubt a talent, but if it doesnt happen for him, then it doesnt happen, Eoghan Cahill, not big or physical enough for midfield, corner forward for me but look he is starting off as such so will give him the time...I wish Offaly well in the future...

Fairplayalways (Offaly) - Posts: 598 - 17/02/2021 10:25:55    2331667

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Offaly is hardly any different to any other county outside the M50 though? OK there might not be jobs on the doorstep but that doesn't mean they can't provide a decent product for young lads to come back to play hurling in.
Like in Wexford, lots of the players are based in Dublin but still go home for training etc. It was easier last year with the pandemic meaning people lived locally, you would have to imagine that with the onset of remote working this will become easier to manage.

StoreysTash (Wexford) - Posts: 984 - 17/02/2021 10:49:23    2331672

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Replying To Tirchonaill1:  "I misread the title of this thread, thought it said' what can be done to save hurling', I don't think I've ever watched a full hurling match start to finish, can't understand why people think it's such a great game, all I hear is TJ DJ AJ etc etc, very hard to understand what the pundits are saying in the studio either, I'd nearly need the subtitles on,
you can't see the players faces with the helmets on and you can hardly see the ball it moves so fast, they can score from almost anywhere and I have to take the commentators word for it because unless they show a camera shot from behind the goals it's hard to know where the ball went. Rugby is too slow and hurling is too fast,
Gaelic football is the Goldilocks game for me."
" you can't see the players faces with the helmets on "
Maybe you've touched on something there. The opposition aren't afraid of them anymore because they can't see their scary mugs

Maroonatic (Galway) - Posts: 972 - 17/02/2021 11:02:21    2331675

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Replying To StoreysTash:  "Offaly is hardly any different to any other county outside the M50 though? OK there might not be jobs on the doorstep but that doesn't mean they can't provide a decent product for young lads to come back to play hurling in.
Like in Wexford, lots of the players are based in Dublin but still go home for training etc. It was easier last year with the pandemic meaning people lived locally, you would have to imagine that with the onset of remote working this will become easier to manage."
I maintain that Offaly is affected more than any other county by the demise of Bord Na Mona. A lot of Offaly footballers, in particular, in the past were directly employed by either Bord Na Mona or the ESB. But the loss of those industries has a knock on affect on other businesses, like retail, hospitality, construction, motoring etc. Also when the local club holds a fundraiser the same resources are not there to support them, this has been a gradual process, barely noticeable from year to year but when comparisons are made to ten years previously the drop in income is frightening. Stagnation takes place and the drop off becomes inevitable.

MillerX (Meath) - Posts: 788 - 17/02/2021 11:33:18    2331679

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Replying To MillerX:  "I maintain that Offaly is affected more than any other county by the demise of Bord Na Mona. A lot of Offaly footballers, in particular, in the past were directly employed by either Bord Na Mona or the ESB. But the loss of those industries has a knock on affect on other businesses, like retail, hospitality, construction, motoring etc. Also when the local club holds a fundraiser the same resources are not there to support them, this has been a gradual process, barely noticeable from year to year but when comparisons are made to ten years previously the drop in income is frightening. Stagnation takes place and the drop off becomes inevitable."
Correct to a degree, but not all great club players were fortunate enought to be "got into" the ESB or Bord na Mona, there wouldnt be the number of jobs anyway, when people say they were big employers, we are talking about seanonal with Bord na Mona on the bog to be frank, most with finishing schooling at post primary level and maybe a bit of college, then went onto to fend for themselves employment wise, and it was away from the county, I think outside Offaly people think of former star county players who were working at management level in ESB or Bornd na Mona, and these were only a few and certainly a generation wasnt lost to these type of jobs (you an read between the lines)..other younger people of late 1980s and early 1990's didnt see a summer in the dust "on the bog" with bord na mona, or working in Banagher concrete (rarely mentioned which was an employment for manys the Offaly hurler) as a reason for staying hurling, yes some "stars" went to Bord na Mona and ESB but it wasnt front end work etc...the careers these people who opted their own route with education and college were pursuing were not readily availabe in Offaly or surrounding counties so these people were travelling then which in turn is a factor in remianing hurling with your club etc...If it wasnt Bornd na Mona or ESB then it was Bord of Public works, or Midland health board etc. where the star players got employment, my point being that not everyone was a county star, and fortunate enough to "get" jobs with the bodies formentioned, and citing Bord na Mona and ESB decline is not really a factor in why so many players were lost in Offaly, some not even progressing beyone underage...that card is over played a bit..

Fairplayalways (Offaly) - Posts: 598 - 17/02/2021 11:52:25    2331682

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Replying To Galway9801:  "Lol, the goldilocks game, I love it hahaha.
I'm deeply fond of both and love seeing the games thrive, whatever code prevails in a given county, but between the two it's hurling all day for me."
Prefer hurling too but have watched 100s of good football games as well!

Viking66 (Wexford) - Posts: 1449 - 17/02/2021 13:44:22    2331688

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