Get to Athenry tonight — honour the heroes for a great cause

The only moment of possible happiness is the present.

The past gives regrets.

And future gives uncertainties.

Perhaps this is why religion was invented, as it forgives us what we have done wrong in the past and tells us not to worry about the future, as if we’re good, it is assumed we will go to paradise.

For this week anyway, the past and the future are all the present for Galway fans, because we have all been stuck in the moment.

When that final whistle blew on Sunday, its shrill blast was soon drowned out by thousands of gasps of breath, held tensely in the lungs. Across the country in the west, it too released a visceral longing for a success long overdue. We have oft been told that winning is not everything, but wanting to win is. Only that enables us to drive on, to be competitive in all walks of life, to be the best we can and the soundest we can.

For many Galway fans, the win was the unburdening of three decades of travelling and hoping and disappointment. It was year after year of yearning to be back in the 80s when everybody looked up to the county hurling team, the pride of the country. And there were so many days in the interim when that was all we had to cling on to. Even our heroes were looking to pass on the baton to the next generation. One of them said that if the current batch of hurlers didn’t bring home the glory soon, then the other heroes would be travelling to the homecoming on the free bus pass.

And so year after year, we hoped that this summer would bring glory knowing there is no greater sorrow than to recall a happy time when miserable.

Everyone here in the west is hurting with pride at the calibre of the team that brought home glory on Sunday and we hope that Mayo can repeat the success when they enter the Lions’ Den against the all-conquering Dubs on Sunday week. The team that represented Galway on Sunday secured victory without resort to fouling or faking; they plugged away a success with point after point of those 26. And on Monday they were the paragons of athleticism and good manners as they fulfiled their duties at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children at Crumlin.

In continuing this fine tradition, they were upholding the maxim that in life, the strongest should always look out for and care for those who are most vulnerable.

Tonight (Thursday ) we get the chance to honour them again in the way we honoured them last Monday, when they are back in their natural domain, togged and ready for action. If you want to meet the stars of the Galway hurling team then Kenny Park, Athenry is the place to be this evening. And it is for a really good cause that is so close to all our hearts.

The All Ireland Senior and Minor Champions will meet with young players from all over the county at the event following the Tony Keady Fundraiser Challenge Match which will include players from the 1987 and 1988 teams as well as members of the current senior and minor squads.

Admission is €10 and all funds raised at the match will go towards the Tony Keady Fund. The game starts at 6:30pm and there will be a chance to get autographs and have a few selfies taken with the players afterwards.

All week, the players have gone out of their way to be most accommodating when dealing with fans and those who are in need of compassion right now. They are all fine young men of Galway, who have soldiered for their county. They will be heroes to us all for ever and we hope that such pressure is worn lightly on their broad shoulders.

Go along tonight and remind them of your bursting pride. And thank them for what they have brought us this week.

A lingering sense of contentment that not even the rain can derail.

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