Saturday, 12 December 2020

A childish dilemma for
Sunday’s hurling final

A small boy developed an enthusiasm for hurling in Cappoquin, Co Waterford, in the 1950s

Patrick Comerford

The Irish definition of where you are from must be who you want to win the next All-Ireland final. If where you are from was determined by where you were born, Meath would never have a decent team, with many of their footballers born in hospitals in Drogheda or Dublin, and even some of the Kilkenny hurlers were probably born in Waterford.

I want Wexford to win the next All-Ireland final. But that’s not possible: tomorrow’s hurling final is between Limerick and Waterford. And that poses a dilemma.

When it comes to rugby, I am a Leinster fan; when it comes to soccer, I am a fan of Aston Villa first and then Tottenham Hotspur. And I enjoy cricket too. But, I have to admit my interest in Gaelic football equals my interest in Golf – somewhere between nothing and nil.

However, when it comes to tomorrow’s Hurling final, I have a minor dilemma. And not just because Wexford is not playing.

I have been living in Askeaton in west Limerick for almost four years, and I was honoured to be counted in when the Limerick hurlers brought the Liam MacCarthy cup back to Limerick and to Askeaton in 2018.

But, in recent days, I came across a photograph that reminded of when and where I became enthusiastic about hurling.

Tucked into the back of a photograph album that had once been in the house of one grandmother who lived in Terenure, I found the only photograph in the album of me as a small child. Although none of us knows what we look like to other people, I recognised myself immediately.

I must have been only 12 to 15 months old in this photograph, and it was taken around 1953 at the home of another grandmother, on her farm outside Cappoquin, Co Waterford.

From an early age, I was infected by the enthusiasm for hurling that is endemic in Co Waterford. Although my side of the Comerford family is from Co Wexford, I had uncles who brought me to many hurling matches when Waterford hurling was at another previous height in the late 1950s and 1960s, reaching its apex with the All-Ireland final win in 1959.

A caring uncle, knowing how infected I was, brought me to a number of All-Ireland finals in Croke Park, and I stil recall the Wexford final against Tipperary in 1962 and the Waterford final against Kilkenny in 1963.

My return visit to Cappoquin at the end of summer this year, complete with Blaas in Barrons and visits to Moonwee, Mount Mellary, Cappoquin House and Dromana, brought back many memories of uncles, hurling and the love that surrounded the small child in that photograph.

Perhaps I shall be a little childish and playful as I watch tomorrow afternoon’s final.

Lifting the Liam MacCarthy Cup with Willie O’Meara and Father Seán Ó Longaigh in Askeaton in 2018

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