Croke Park the only place to be

Shane Doonan is presented with the Connacht 60x30 Minor Cup by Connacht Handball Chairman Peter Heaney during the opening of Fenagh Handball Alley on Sunday August 4. Shane defeated Mayo's Darragh Cunnane on a score line of 21-12, 21-14.
Wow. What a hurling match. Dublin and Cork served up a sporting encounter that I doubt was bettered anywhere in the world at the weekend. Croke Park was the only place to be on Sunday. This Sportg Life- Colin Regan

Wow. What a hurling match. Dublin and Cork served up a sporting encounter that I doubt was bettered anywhere in the world at the weekend. Croke Park was the only place to be on Sunday.

This Sportg Life- Colin Regan

The players displayed a degree of commitment, skill, fitness, and finesse that reinforces the argument that hurling played at the highest level is the best field sport you are likely to see. I tip my hat to both squads and everyone involved with the teams.

To fully appreciate how amateur players achieve that level of physical fitness while honing the 170 reported skills that make up hurling is difficult to fathom. There is a theory that you must achieve 10,000 hours of practise in any discipline to achieve real success. That’s the equivalent of training for 416 days without a break.

Of course, that’s not how it works. Many of those hours are built up in your youth and the countless evenings spent on the training field. Through this – combined with exposure to correct training techniques and a deep well of commitment, dedication, and respect for your body – you build up a base of fitness and skills that allows the truly talented to move on to a higher level on the inter-county scene.

Into the mix is now thrown sports science, strength and conditioning programmes, and skill training that allow individuals reach their full potential. On Sunday the 30 lads from Dublin and Cork who started the game, plus a few from the bench, were given the perfect platform to showcase their skills and physical prowess. They didn’t disappoint. It was an honour to watch.

I was a guest in the Aviva watching Celtic play Liverpool on Saturday. Those professional soccer players are not in the same league as our inter-county players as far as I am concerned. The FAI must truly be scratching their heads. How can they sell out the Aviva with 52,000 fans of two clubs that aren’t even based in our country when they can’t fill the half of it for some home Irish international matches?

While the defeat was devastating for Dublin, they have progressed sufficiently this year to ensure they can compete at the business of the All Ireland series year in, year out, from here on. Those fans who support Dublin hurling are incredibly passionate about the sport. For years the game played second fiddle to football and was driven by blow-ins to the capital from some of the stalwart counties with some True Blue Dubs also pushing the cause as best they could at club level. A strategic plan backed by some considerable funding aimed to return hurling to the top table. I believe they will be dining there for some time and an All Ireland title is a reasonable expectation in the next few years. When you consider they won their first Leinster title in 52 years in 2013 that’s a remarkable feat.

There are a few clubs and individuals here in Leitrim that deserve special mention for promoting the great game of hurling. Keep up the good work – it doesn’t go unnoticed even if it doesn’t always receive the attention it deserves. I can’t wait for Limerick and Clare – another classic is on the cards.