An Phoblacht 2 - 2022 small

20 February 1997 Edition

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Sportsview: The Patriots' Game

By Sean O'Donaile

Wolfe Tone and Roger Casement were both murdered by the British establishment, who followed this up by trying to besmirch their good name. Both, however, would have been delighted to have been associated with last Sunday's thrilling All Ireland Club Hurling semi final between Wolfe Tones na Sionna agus Ruairi Og Cushendall.

There's never been tradition in Shannon as it was built out of the Clare swamps as recently as 1967. When the club was founded four years later, the name Wolfe Tones was used to symbolise the diverse mix of people who moved to the area. Following the Loyalist pogroms, many Northern Catholics set up home in Shannon, including Antrim goalie Jim Corr, earning Shannon the title ``little Belfast''. Northern accents predominate to this day, including children who have never been outside Clare.

A significant number of Chileans came to the town in 1973 after the fall of President Allende and made a speedy contribution to the hurling fortunes of the club. Most recently the Russians have been coming, but have yet to make their mark!

The schools for years promoted the games, including Clare manager Ger Lougnane, and their labours bore fruit this summer when Wolfe Tones won their first ever County Senior title.

Cushendall, ar an taobh eile, were rocked by the sudden death of Danny McNaughton, and honoured his memory in the best fashion possible, dethroning Dunloy in the course of capturing the Antrim and Ulster titles. Dunloy, of course, had other things to worry about.

Cushendall had no less than thirteen Macs in their team, including their Cuchulainn, Terence `Sambo' McNaughton.

The Glensmen were first off the mark with a goal, which was almost immediately followed by a similar effort from the Claremen. It was tit for tat up to half time, with ``Big John'' Carson winning high balls and putting his side into a three point half time lead.

Incidentally, the toilets were dangerously overcrowded at the break and in good old GAA fashion, the sinks became lavatories. Still, there were no hotdogs!

Shannon upped the tempo after the break, popping over two points. Then the introduction of pony-tailed Ciaran O'Neill at centre forward, along with the shackling of ``Big John'' by the ferocious Frank Lohan changed the course of the game. Shannon were gifted a dubious 50th minute goal, and with the brilliant Brian Lohan not `taking any prisoners', victory seemed to be a formality.

The hardy Antrim men were not to be walked on however, and in between some nail-biting misses, they levelled with time almost up. Enter Paul Lee who swung over the wining score for Wolfe Tones, and Cushendall were further galled when they hit the post in the final seconds of a thrilling game. Still, they weren't beaten, only pipped at the post.

Final score 2-8 to 1-10 in Shannon's favour - I doubt if Wolfe or Roger wielded the caman very often, but they would've been delighted with the show!

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