‘Sambo’ McNaughton: 'We had security guards when we trained and scout cars ahead of the bus'

‘Sambo’ McNaughton: 'We had security guards when we trained and scout cars ahead of the bus'

Antrim hurling icon Terence ‘Sambo’ McNaughton gives a reminder of the implications of a no-deal Brexit in tonight’s episode of The Game, RTÉ’s hurling documentary.

Discussing the Antrim hurlers’ surprise arrival in the 1989 All-Ireland hurling final against Tipperary on Morning Ireland, McNaughton recalled the realities of a hard border back in the seventies and eighties.

“When I started hurling with the county, like, you had to be aware of crossing the border and checkpoints and soldiers coming on to the bus.

“Every night you went out the door you were guaranteed you were going to be stopped.

It’s hard to believe now but I remember us having security guards when we trained and we had scout cars going ahead of the bus at times. Travelling to and from matches just wasn’t safe. We all know the stories of the Miami showband going over the border.

McNaughton added that it was an era when parents didn’t want their children “travelling over borders” at night if they were coming back from a hurling match.

“We had bus loads of young hurlers coming up over the border and late at night coming from playing Kerry and places like that. If you didn’t come from a very strong GAA family you didn’t want your kids travelling over borders at that time of night and walking down the street with hurls.

“But for me the game became more important to you because it was your identity and the love for the game just trumped everything.”

The Antrim icon pointed out how circumstances have changed in Northern Ireland since the peace process kicked in: “The world that we live in now is a lot different from the world that I started playing inter-county hurling in.

“Growing up in the Glens of Antrim, hurling became very much part of our identity through the 80s and the 70s.

“When you walk down the street in Thurles you were saying you were a hurler if you carried a hurl. If you walked down the street with a hurl in Belfast you were also saying what your religion was, who you voted for and all that baggage that came with it and that was just a fact of life.”

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