Jimmy Walsh – Everyone, everywhere has their own special memory of all Ireland

All Ireland has always been a part of life – played in gardens, on roads, in fields, using the names of heroes, with cloaks as goal posts before the luxury of a string crossbar and the designated fields of dreams that have only happened in most clubs in living memory.

His bhaile, a huge photo of a Kilkenny football team adorned the wall of the living room, made up of recession-driven emigrants to New York where they dominated the game for nearly 20 years. They included members of the Slatequarry Miners and Lamogue teams who defined the local All Ireland scene as best they could – if they were still at home – adding All Ireland wins to Leinster titles before the hurling becomes more and more powerful.

As everyone, everywhere has their own All Ireland memory – a surprise letter in the post during the week came with memories of 1933. The first personal contact with All Ireland was with a real throwing ball leather, reputed to have been used in the 1937 final.

Sadly, it was lost in the far ditch of the front field and was never found, with the exact location still remembered as if he still expected to get his hands on it over 50 years later. In 1967, on the Tipperary border, the final was seen on black-and-white television in Birchwood; its impact is still remembered.

1971 saw my first final at Croke Park, traveling with my dad on the Skough bus. There was a mass at a service in Findlater Church, but the day ended soaked and disappointed on Hill 16. Then 1972 saw the first senior hurling medal winner in all of England. Club Ireland, while ’82 and ’83, now domiciled in Dublin, were celebrated with the Kilkenny Association in the Cill Dara. Another time back home in 87 and married to a lady from Leitrim Kilnadeema was tough as brother Pat played against the tribesmen at Croke Park.

Closer still were the incredible achievements and joys of the 2000s as Kilkenny climbed the honor roll. In 2014 and 2015 it was a privilege to stand in the dressing room in awe of modern day leaders and gladiators and it continues with memories of days of participation, defeat and victory for everyone.

However, the All-Ireland Finals don’t just happen. They have been built over generations in families, communities, schools and clubs by players, supporters, coaches, teachers and volunteers who will see them shared and enjoyed far more than ever by participating in the game. inside white lines. The result is a brilliant combination of clubs big and small coming together to compete successfully at national level.

More recently, inter-county games have come without locker rooms, showers, or buses; empty stadiums, including the largest in Europe, resembled 1950s conditions with sweeper drivers ensuring all players arrived safely and on time at venues.

The times endured were often sweetened by streaming and media coverage and left a huge void for camaraderie, participation and interaction, with many failing to see the focus on development and raising the bar. Rejuvenated by club hardships at all levels and the easing of the pandemic, she revived the spring flow, community spirit, sport and rising tide. That lasts a long time!

Behind the scenes with busy years in preparations to get to the penultimate stage of semi-final victory and the new format of a shorter season sees three weeks packed into two as another group of volunteers incredible shifts into high gear.
Wearing the Kilkenny shirt on so many levels and being blessed with the loyalty of sponsors in recent tough times, it becomes a badge of honor for all people of Kilkenny to do their best.

They include county council officers and Caroline working on organizing gear, tickets, alumni, meals, hotels, buses, meetings and media nights, as each call changes the agenda. . Additionally there is the continued work of the Kilkenny, Kildare and Dublin Supporters Clubs which have stepped up by organizing events with golf classics, corporate parties, memberships, county finals draws and sales of flags and banners.

The combination ensures that every euro contributes greatly to the continued promotion and development of the games through a volunteer fundraising machine. They are supported by another team of public officers and statutory authorities organizing garda escorts, stewards, departures, returns and entertainment, working to ensure everyone gets to and gets back safely. Also in clubs by leaders and committees as they manage the eternal bread and fish of distributing tickets to workers, players, members and supporters.

For many, the All-Ireland is not always the final, but the last league game every year. Some bring disappointment, others hope for the future and unforgettable memories. Sunday’s achievement marked another successful season with All-Ireland Under-20 hurling and youth football wins creating another layer of hopes, dreams and memories in a world for believers, workers and not the opponents.

As noting names is dangerous in a nutshell, Mile buíochas is extended do gach duine who was in any way involved in Kilkenny’s appearance in the All Ireland senior hurling final on Sunday. Best wishes for a great day go out to Brian, Richie, the team and all the Black and Amber supporters.

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