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31 July 2008 Edition

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Taking the Field of Valour

WHILE regular sports columnist and true blue Dub Matt Treacy is off spending a fortnight in somewhere like Playa Del Trabolgan, carrying out an in-depth study into the performance-enhancing qualities of 12 pints of Guinness and an extra large King Prawn with Broccoli in Oyster Sauce every night, An Phoblacht has nervously allowed one of Matt’s country cousins, ‘Gael Gan Naire’, to line out as substitute under the back door rule.
Our worried-looking Editor takes this opportunity to earnestly remind readers of a nervous disposition and Max Mosley’s libel lawyers that sports columnists do not reflect the official views of Sinn Féin or An Phoblacht.

Taking the Field of Valour

IS THERE a finer sight for a true Gael than the manly combat of young men at the  hurling? Strong in limb, stout in spirit and with a prayer for Ireland on their lips, they take the Field of Valour.
It was said of the great Michael Cusack that he tried to take hurling to the Jackeen when he founded the Metropolitan team in the 1880s but, of course, the guttersnipes were (and always will be) more interested in the sports of the Gall and the ‘pitch and toss’ schools.
Even the Jackeens’ attachment to our other great national game is less from a genuine love for the kicking of the cáid and the fine art of high fielding and manly endeavour but more because it provides them with an opportunity to blackguard opponents through the sly use of the closed-fist tackle, the elbow and the boot into the head. A lower gang you could not hope to meet in a long walk.
But enough of that crowd. Leave them be, as the man said. Their own will know them.

ON SUNDAY, there was a gathering of the true Gael in Durlas Eile, the Strong Fort of the Eile, and no doubt hurling with the best of them before the Planter came. I say true Gaels although there were some there who seemed intent on aping the ways of the Jackeen.
And this business of flags. Call me an old stick in the mud if you must but I hold that the only flag of any nation that should fly over the Field of Valour is the flag of the Republic. Unfortunately, some choose to cavort a rag-tag and bob-tail of the flags of many nations, some of them friends of the Gael, some of them not.
And, of course, there are dangers inherent in glamourising certain flags on the basis that they are red. It is not gone beyond the day when our youth should still be made aware of the dangers of an alien creed and its capacity to this day to undermine national ideals and principles.

BUT ENOUGH of that. I pledged to give a true account of Our Games and a true account I will give. When I was in my playing days I was never a jibber and that much has not changed. Show me the ball and I will pull on it. Dare me to take a challenge and there’s no better buachaill. So put that in your pipe and smoke it.
One of the great joys of hurling in my day was the ground hurling. Waterford in particular were great exponents of that art. Indeed, masters of it in the opinion of men who knew their onions. I mind they scored many a goal in the late 1950s through that expedient. Move the ball and move it fast, man. That’s the plan.
It is a pity to see then that lads seem to insist on all the time lifting the ball when a swift puck along the ground would do service. Begod, sometimes all you can see is lads rooting around like our pig friends after a few spuds. It is unsightly and all that lark could be avoided, as I say, by returning to the Old Ways. If it was good enough for Tom Cheasty and John Keane it should be good enough for the lads playing in this day.
But, in fairness, some of the Waterford play was a joy to behold. That Eoin Kelly is a fine lad. And what say you of the Boys of Wexford? As always they “fought with heart and hand” like the Pikemen of yore. The Spirit of the Shelmaliers is alive and well. Of that much we can be certain even if the county of ‘98 is more and more being over-run by the Jackeen.
Indeed, I wonder was Mr Matt Treacy down there? Probably in some poor honest man’s public house demanding to see Manchester or some other soccer crowd over the hurling. Wouldn’t that be a fine thing to have now? Wouldn’t you be made up after that? You would in your Granny.

THE Men of the Déise won the day and will meet the seed and breed of Treacy and Breen and Hogan in the semi-final. It will be a day to savour for lovers of Our Games. As will indeed the other semi-final between the Leesiders and the Men of the Nore. Old enemies but old friends also. Unlike the Jackeen.
When the Men of Cork and the Men of Clare grab hold of the camán and take to the field you may be damn sure that you will see hurling of the highest order. And honour too – unlike our friends and their sleeveen ways. And so it proved once again this day. There was never more than a puck of the ball in it but the Corkmen prevailed in the end. And good luck to them. And damn all said about the turf accountants, and better too by a long chalk.

An Phoblacht Magazine


  • The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
  • It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
  • There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.

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