HURLER of the Year Lar Corbett said that Queen Elizabeth had displayed a keen interest in the sport when she met a group of players at Croke Park yesterday.
Corbett and his Thurles Sarsfields clubmate Pádraic Maher received an invitation from the Gaelic Players Association a fortnight ago to meet the Queen and Corbett said that he was “delighted to be asked”.
Tipperary star Corbett explained: “Myself and Pádraic were delighted to be asked. It was great to get the opportunity — it could have been anyone but we got a phonecall from the GPA.
“She was talking to me and Paudie, asking about the hurley we had. President Mary McAleese was explaining about shinty and the queen asked if we had been playing hurling from a young age, and was enquiring about Croke Park.”
Corbett added: “[GAA president] Christy Cooney was at her side, explaining about the sport. He told her that we are voluntary players and don’t get paid, that we work normally as well but that we play in front of full houses at Croke Park. She thought that was very interesting.
“She also asked about the hurley and how they’re made. She has such a busy schedule with visits to different places in Dublin but she is a fair lady for 85 years of age, showing an interest in everybody she meets here.”
Corbett, 30, admitted that he was aware of the historical significance of Queen Elizabeth’s visit to the ground where Tipperary footballer Michael Hogan was one of 14 people killed during the Bloody Sunday massacre in 1920.
Corbett said: “An awful lot of sadness surrounded that day back in 1920 and I was honoured to represent the GPA at Croke Park.”
Joe Sheridan, the Meath footballer, was also there along with Kevin Nolan from Dublin.
“It’s the Queen’s first time in Ireland. There has been so much negativity around the place because of the economy and people out of work but something like this is positive. It’s good to build relations with England and we have the visit of US President Barack Obama to come.”
Corbett insisted: “I wasn’t nervous. Paudie and myself were saying that it was one visit to Croke Park where we couldn’t lose because when we’re up here we’re usually playing in matches where it’s win or lose. It was great to be there, to shake hands with her.
“There was no pressure or tension. She’s been around long enough to take things like that in her stride.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved