“We are blessed with the most wonderful field game in the world. No sport is more skillful, more graceful, more revealing of those who play it, and nobody who has seen hurling played by its greatest exponents can be in any doubt what beauty is, or graciousness or courtesy either.
“There is something else that is innate to hurling; the spirit in which the game is played. You can hurt, maim or even kill a man with a blow from a camán. You can certainly intimidate an opponent more persistently and to more effect than in any other game. The camán can be a skilful instrument or a bloody weapon; that traditionally it has been the former rather than the latter is something to be proud of – something to be properly cherished and nurtured. Without a certain decency of spirit, hurling would be rendered ugly. Decency in this sense is, like the game itself, distinctly Irish.”
Beautiful words there describing a beautiful game as spoken by that wonderful, elegant former Galway hurler Joe Salmon, a man who practised what he preached.
As hordes of Galwegians head to Croke Park this Sunday, we thought to show you a team that travelled there to play a challenge game against Dublin a week after the events of Bloody Sunday, as November 21, 1920, in Dublin became known. On that violent day, 32 people died; 13 British soldiers and police, 16 civilians and three Republican prisoners. It began with Michael Collins’ men killing members of the infamous ‘Cairo Gang’. That afternoon, as revenge, British soldiers went into Croke Park and shot and killed 11 civilians. They wounded 60 others, three of whom died later. Two people were crushed to death in the stampede to escape.
The GAA were not intimidated by these actions and they decided to defy curfew and martial law by organising the game between Galway and Dublin a week after Bloody Sunday. This is the Galway team that played that day. Back row, left to right: Jim Power, Mick Kenny, Paddy O’Connor, Pádraic Naughton, Ignatius Harney, Bernie Gibbs and Sonny Shaughnessy. In front are Andy Kelly, ‘Carb’ Fahy, Tom Cogavin, Dick Morrissy, Frank Fallon, Martin McGlynn, Mick Finn, ‘Junior’ Mahony and Stephen Jordan. The man at the back on the right was Matt Daly who was shot the night the photograph was taken.
So let us be loud and noisy and decked in maroon in our support of our current hurlers this Sunday.