It's 10 years they’ve had it like this now: the Cup weekend back in Cork and a festival of hoops moving between the grand houses of the game, known to the locals as The Hall, the Mardyke and The Shed, though the rest of the country would know the latter more commonly as the Neptune Stadium.
Before I led the Clarecastle team out at half-time of yesterday’s Clare county final, to collect our 25-year anniversary plaques, somebody handed me the 1994 county final programme. We beat a young St Joseph’s Doora-Barefield team that afternoon and, as I scanned the teams, Ger Hoey’s name jumped out at me.
A glance at the opposition dug-out at Deepdale will send Sean Maguire’s thoughts back to Turner’s Cross and turn him into a star-struck schoolkid, momentarily at least, when he continues his return to fitness with Championship side Preston this afternoon.
On the night Cork beat Clare in the 1999 Munster final, Johnny Callanan, the former Clarecastle and Clare hurler, and a great personal friend, told me a funny story. A few pints had helped to siphon some of the pain from the defeat but Cal wanted to try put more perspective on the day’s events.
Ger Loughnane, as he is often capable of doing, not only had issued the last rites to this Tipperary team at half-time yesterday; he had also effectively organised the wake, was preparing the funeral, and was just about to start shovelling clay on top of the Tipperary coffin.
Twenty years ago, there were the three shadowy priests who, it was claimed, had knowledge of Colin Lynch’s suspension before the Munster Council had even met to decide his faith. In Liam Doyle, Seánie McMahon, and Anthony Daly, meanwhile, Clare had the three wise kings, forming one of hurling’s greatest half-back lines. Two decades on from the Banner’s last Munster SHC success and the All-Ireland title that got away, the trio recall that tumultuous summer of ’98, from Lynch’s ban to Jimmy Cooney’s bad time-keeping.
A week after his Masters video caught the ear of Sergio Garcia, Mullingar impressionist Conor Moore has gone global; with everyone from the BBC to NBC’s Golf Channel interested in his talents. But a dyed-in-the-wool GAA man, and lively corner-forward, is not about to neglect the unholy trinity of Davy, Brolly, and Ger