The GAA Championship – More than a game

GAA Championship, hurling, Irish Sports,

The GAA Championship – Summer’s here.

May. Start of summer. End of exams. Holidays on the horizon. But, most importantly, the GAA Championship. It’s a long road to Croke Park in mid-September, but it’s a journey those fortunate to make it will relish. And it’s a journey well-travelled, not just to Croke Park itself but to the Sam Maguire/Liam McCarthy. From grounds throughout the country to the hallowed turf itself in Dublin 3. Through rain, hail and shine and everything in between.  Astute analysis spoken from bar stools throughout every province to shite talk on RTE (or Sky Sports, if you’re so inclined), it’s a journey we’re well accustomed to, but one that never gets old. Hurling T Shirt, Irish Hurling, GAA Clothing

The fans. What truly makes the GAA a unique beast. They come in many shapes and sizes, but there are certainly reoccurring types. There’s the local diehard, who doesn’t care too much for the county team. This may have something to with the fact that the last time they won anything was the 2003 Leinster Final (looking at you, Laois). The local diehard is a fan who, in a parish of 90, mostly elderly people, somehow manages to coax 15 men, strong and true, to answer the call to Junior C hurling. This man won’t rest until the prom

otion to Junior A becomes a reality, no matter how many generations it might take. Then you have your county-in-law fan. This man has never played any form of sports in his life, apart from what he was forced to in school. Finding himself married to a woman from either Kilkenny, Cork, Kerry or Dublin, he finds that the hype is real here. And it’s tempting. For once, he can go to Croke Park on match day. He can wear the jersey with (mostly unearned) pride, he can pretend to be a true blue or red or yellow-and-green or black-and-amber, he can
Cork fans comfort himself in the knowledge that this is his new home, his kids wear these jerseys and Longford were never going to get him a ticket to Croke Park anyway. The only time this man has to face the music is when he goes home for weddings and has to face his stony-faced Longfordian clan who never forgive and never forget.

The other type of fan which cannot be forgotten is the determined camogie and women’s football fans. These fans know that their heroes are doing this for the love of the sport. They might only get the scraps left over from the county board’s budget once the men have received the majority of the funding. They know that even on final day, Croke Park won’t be full. But these fans will stop at nothing to keep the women and the next generation of girls in jerseys, socks and gear.

2016 has been an odd year. With Leicester and Connacht defying the odds and finding success, stalwarts of the GAA championship such as Kilkenny and Dublin have been feeling uneasy of late. Meanwhile, your Leitrims, Carlows and Roscommons felt more hopeful than usual. Maybe this will be the year. Leicester were tipped to be relegated this year! Look at them now. The squads themselves dared to wonder. What was the difference between them and last years winners anyway? Dreams. Belief. Achievement. Maybe. For the fans who will make the trip up to Drumcondra in September, and throughout the summer, it will be unforgettable.

Here at TwoTon Murphy® we believe that the Championship and GAA as a whole are a massively important part of Irish culture. This has been evident to us with the enduring popularity of our Life, Death, Hurling tee which perfectly encapsulates the be-all, end-all nature of both the game’s pace, and its impact on Irish life.

irish t shirts for women, hurling t shirt, gaa clothingEveryone remembers their first time in Croker. Going around and up the tiers, the grey concrete no match for the colours and excitement in the air. Getting to the top of the steps and looking down onto the field that everyone knows. More than a field. An amphitheatre. Where war will be waged. Tears will be shed. Flags furiously waved. The background noise of screams and cries, encouragement and horror, congratulations and anger. The greatest and most Irish of all sights is the intermingling of jerseys. No fear of riots, hooliganism or violence. It’s not about that. It’s about the game, the people, the journey. That is what the GAA Championship is all about.


Peter Crowley

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