Ahh now, about the hurling

Ahh now, it has happened.

Just this winter’s evening, as the full moon prepared for lift off, a highly speculative venture dating back more than a decade has borne fruit.

Back in 2002, a couple of lifetimes ago, I has the immense privilege of visiting a friend shacked up with her Irish housemates in Dublin. Among other things, the housemates cooked up some black pudding for my breakfast, drank me under the tables of the Temple bar district and heroically found me a ticket and took me with them to the All Ireland Hurling Final at Croke Park.

County Clare (gold & blue) were taking on County Galway (maroon & white). I was strongly encouraged to pick a side. And not Galway.

As a sport, hurling is, of course, almost complete madness.

But Croke Park was a sellout and there was plenty of singing and revelry and from the moment we set off for the ground, I knew that the whole occasion would be one of those grand days in life. County Clare won that day. Later that week I drove a hire car to Galway and on to Clare and was impressed by the fervour with which local colours were displayed on front lawns.

Back in Melbourne Town several years later, I felt an urge to get myself a jersey as was worn by County Clare that day. It would make a nice running/ cycling top. Something with a story.

I visited the Gaelic Athletic Association website to purchase one. However, stumbled at the last hurdle when the postal address field to which the jersey was to be sent contained just one country to choose from: Ireland (Eire).

Not to be dissuaded, I contacted the same mate, by this time living in the UK with her Irish husband, who volunteered her in-laws’ address. Several postal exchanges & carbon footprints later, and I was proudly wearing the hurling shirt of County Clare on my daily running/ riding commute in Melbourne Town.

It’s been a couple of years of doing that now. Until tonight, as I ran past a building site emptying of fluorescent-appareled workers, a fella called to me:

– Hey.

Luckily he called just in that slightest of lulls between Godless and Mohammed on the Dandy Warhols’ Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia album, so I heard him.

– Hey.

I stopped running. Walked over to him.

– Hey. You a Clare man?

An accent tinged with rolling green and Guinness and Jamieson’s and James Joyce.

– Ahh, yep. From here though.

His shoulders sagged a bit.

– Saw them win the All Ireland hurling final in ’02.

– Ahh, did yeh? You know they’re in the final again?

– No. When?

– Yes, they beat Limerick just now. Oh, the 8th or the 9th of something like that. First time in the final since that time, I’d say.

– Oh thanks. I hadn’t heard of that..

– Not at all. They play County Cork.

And then he dropped his head a fraction. Quickly, his eyes flicked up, looking at me out of the corner of his downturned head. With a heavy gravity he declared:

– It will be one hell of a final.


It’s on 3pm Sunday 8th September, Dublin time (Midnight Sunday/Monday here). Keep an eye out. And for lovers of sports reporting, this is how the Irish Times reported Clare’s semi-final win over Limerick (click here).

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He shares the care of two daughters and a dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. My pale, half-Irish arse was in Dublin three years later for similar reasons and went to the All Ireland Semi Final between Kilkenny and Galway. To this day it is one of my all time favourite sporting experiences. The atmosphere at Croke Park and surrounds was unadorned enchantment with the slightest threat of violence. Magical.

    I vaguely follow Tipperary due to family history, but may switch allegiances for the final to County Clare.

    Thanks for the tip — I’ll definitely keep an eye out for the final.

  2. Well our man was dead right.
    It was one hell of a final.
    A tie in fact.
    They’re coming back to do it all again. On September 28th, no less. Our GF day.

    The Irish Times match report is a beauty:
    “This is becoming a habit. A glorious, thundering, life-affirming habit. For the second year in a row, the All-Ireland hurling final will go to a replay after Clare and Cork played out a 0-25 to 3-16 draw that made the spine tingle and left the head in a swim.
    In front of 81,651 rapt spectators at Croke Park yesterday, Clare corner-back Domhnall O’Donovan surged forward in injury-time to score his first ever point in a Clare jersey. All square. Come back and do it again in three weeks..”


  3. Luke Reynolds says

    Looking forward to the replay. 3 weeks is an extraordinarily long break between games.

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Great Article A couple of Uni Guys have agony to The GF before and raved about it
    Can Any 1 Explain why there is 3 Weeks between The GF and The Replay ?

  5. Hi Luke, Malcolm,
    I’ve had a wee nose around the Irish sites just now and it appears that the intervening weekends are all booked out with Gaelic Athletic Association finals of other descriptions; hence a 3 week break til the replay.
    The GAA Football final, for instance, is scheduled for the weekend before. The Under 21 finals are being played in hurling and in football, too. And the women’s finals. It’s a busy time.
    The big hulabaloo presently concerns the decision to replay the men’s All Ireland Final on a Saturday evening. No final has previously been played under the floodights.
    Perhaps a precedent for our little provincial game.
    Carn County Clare!!

  6. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thank you eregnans I new we would get a Precise answer back Greatly Appreciated
    A Night GF will happen eventually

  7. Ahoy, the All-Ireland Hurling Replay Final was held just now.
    County Clare the champions of Ireland.


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