29 January 2021 No Comments by The Northern Standard

For those wed to the “oddball pursuit” of hurling in Co Monaghan, the journey is always “more of a process than a miracle” according to JACK MADDEN

The hats, scarves, and headbands are on sale. “Three euro each, two for a fiver!”. The bandwagoners fill the streets. Friends and family are more scattered, their nerves all over the place. The locals lament the influx of culchies once more. “Next!” is the call from the scauldy, middle-aged woman in the burger van. The significance begins to sink in. Perfect imperfection. This is what being Irish is all about. But this is no ordinary day. The everchanging flags on Jones’ Road this time are a shade of green and gold. Monaghan men waltz into Croke Park on All-Ireland final day. They are wielding hurls.

The date is the 10th of February 2019. “Figures published by the GAA during the week pitch the number of adult hurling teams in Kilkenny at 88. In ‘Blayney, hurling is a lifestyle choice, the sort of oddball pursuit that might mark a fella out as an attention-seeker. In Dunnamaggin, hurling is life.” The words of Malachy Clerkin on the eve of the Junior All-Ireland Final. A foregone conclusion by all accounts. Minnows Castleblayney’s lead…

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