Mullagh hosted a special occasion on Sunday as former Galway hurler Ray Duane lined out against his son Dylan.
Duane, 52, was corner-forward on the Mullagh team in their Junior C championship game against neighbours Kiltormer featuring 18-year-old Dylan who was also playing at corner-forward.
And while there was some bragging rights for Duane senior as he was the only one of the pair to get on the scoresheet with a point, it was Dylan’s side which came out on top, 1-20 to 1-11.
Along with 54-year-old Christy Curley and featuring in a side with an average age of 40, Duane was on the Mullagh third team that claimed Galway’s junior C1 championship last year. Duane scored 1-1 in the final win over Athenry, which sealed their promotion to junior C where Kiltormer’s second team were relegated to this season.
Four years ago, Mullagh and Kiltormer chose to amalgamate at U14 level and won a county B1 title. They are now joined at all juvenile grades up to U21. Living in Laurencetown, Kiltormer, it was just as striking for Duane to face players he would have managed through the years as it was opposing his son.
“I coached all the young lads up along and had a hurley in my hand the whole time so I just kept playing junior C with the lads for a bit of fun, to keep it going. From U10s, I would have been over Dylan and his friends’ team.
“We didn’t have any contact in the game whatsoever although there was good banter before the match. Shauna, my daughter, was also there as well and she plays camogie for Kiltormer so they got a great kick out of it.
“It was the first time really that the young lads played against each other after playing alongside each other the whole way up. Our Junior C team would train with the Kiltormer-Mullagh minor team so it’s an unusual one but it’s about having the numbers in training. If the two clubs didn’t come together to field teams we would be really struggling. Hopefully into the future the clubs will be able to bring through enough players to adult level and keep going for as long as possible.”
As a half-forward, Duane made his senior debut for Galway in the 1989 All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Tipperary, Éanna Ryan scoring a second first-half goal after Duane’s shot had initially hit the post. He was also on the team that lost to Tipp at the same stage two years later before he won an Oireachtas medal with the Tribesmen in 1993.
He puts down his longevity simply to the social aspect of hurling. “When you go out to play, you obviously go out to do your best and you just try and keep fit and stay healthy. It’s something you enjoy, it’s like therapy as such. It’s nice to get out there in the evenings with the lads, even the half an hour afterwards and having a chat.
“It isn’t all about playing but meeting friends and keeping in contact with people. Otherwise, you might just be meeting work colleagues and stuck at home. We don’t take it too seriously but when you’re out there, there’s a competitive edge.”
As well as Kiltormer, Duane’s daughter Shauna has played intermediate camogie for Galway and claimed minor and U16 All-Irelands. His niece is senior star Aoife Donohue, who landed an All-Ireland title and a third All-Star last year. Five years ago, Donohue guided Mullagh to an All-Ireland senior club final.