Eighty-two thousand fans packed Croke Park in Dublin for the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Final between Limerick and Kilkenny on Sunday the 17th of July. The atmosphere alone was insane, but made more intense from a heatwave of temperatures as high as 84 F that day.
The sport of hurling has been played in some form in Ireland for hundreds of years. The GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) was established to formalize the game in 1884. To this day it remains an amateur sport. The players and teams don’t get paid to play and all players have other “day” jobs. Any money that is made from competitions goes into the GAA and is distributed throughout the counties to help the future players and clubs.
Hurling has a tremendous following in Ireland and players at the local club level ultimately want represent their county in Senior Level competitions. Limerick and County Kilkenny both advanced through the brackets over the past few months to ultimately meet in the Final.
As you’d expect, most of the greenkeepers at Adare Manor are big Limerick fans since they are based there. I enjoyed watching the team progress and became a Limerick fan myself. After hosting the Pro-Am, Mr. McManus (owner of the course and Limerick Hurling Team) raffled off tickets to the staff at Adare Manor and I was fortunate to win a ticket!
This event was enjoyable to watch because it was a very fast-paced match. It was also fun watching the fans because they were throwing smoke flares into the opposing team sections, which would not be seen in any stadium in the United States. The match was very close because Kilkenny scored two goals in the final minutes, but it was not enough to beat Limerick. With a score of 34 to 30, Limerick earned their third straight All-Ireland Hurling Final. Afterward, Croke Park played the classic song “Limerick You’re a Lady” over the PA. That was especially memorable for me since the Limerick fans sang along.
Even with high temperatures, Croke Park Pitch Manager Stuart Wilson and his crew had the pitch looking and playing pure. Regardless of which county they were supporting, everyone in the stadium had a great time.
Attending the All Ireland Senior Hurling Final will be another great memory from my time in Ireland.