August 19th 2018 All Ireland Senior Hurling Final
Limerick scores! Canning shoots! Crowd gasps… The sliotar seems to hang in the air forever…
As the ball glides so slowly towards the goalposts in Croke Park my mind travels back to how we got here.
It started a few weeks before when the tickets for the All-Ireland Final were released. They were as precious as gold dust. “How did my mom and I get these precious tickets?” I thought to myself. Well look no further than… John Gorman! This wonderful man, my uncle, somehow managed to acquire the tickets to the Final! While I stand here with my feet firmly planted on the ground in the Cusack Stand, I remember the day I stood in Michael Cusack’s living-room in Carron, County Clare, in early August, listening to his life story on a television loop. Now I stand proud in an excited crowd, in the stand named after him.
Nanny Patty waved us off from Portlaoise shouting “Enjoy! I’ll be watching the game on the telly!”
As our bus made its way towards Dublin, cars draped with colours of their counties passed by. Excitement was fever pitch just as it is now. As we got closer to the Ha’penny Bridge and our stop, I could see both sides of the Liffey displaying flags of Limerick and Galway. When we disembarked from the bus, I could hear sounds of happy hurling supporters. Soon, there stood Daniel O’Connell, strong, just like the captain who’d raise the Liam McCarthy Cup.
Bhí O’ Connell Street Glas agus Dearg le daoine. As I glanced up at Clerys Clock Mom said “We still have time for a second breakfast!” Everywhere was packed!
I spotted a small Café near the G.P.O. After eating, we re-joined the throngs of people and made our way along the route to Croke Park. As we passed Barry’s Hotel on Gardiner Row we paused and joined in with the singing of Limerick songs.
We continued walking, by Gill’s Pub and street sellers shouting “Hats, Flags!” In the distance, stood the majestic stadium.
We were carried along by the crowd up Clonliffe Road, St. Joseph’s Avenue and onward to one of the most electrifying moments. The one in which I took my first steps inside the hallowed grounds of Croke Park. Thrilling!
We took our seats in anticipation of what may lay ahead. Now as I look out at the pitch and watch my favourite players: Shane Dowling, Cian Lynch, Aaron Gillane… my heart is in my mouth. Is the great Joe Canning going to steal a win for Galway and take away Limerick’s first win since 1973? It seems the ball is gliding through the air in slow motion. It drops short! Limerick have the ball! “Breathe Alex! Hold on Mommy!” The Final whistle blows, Limerick have won!
I see tears of happiness, the cheers are deafening, “Dreams” by Dolores O’Riordan plays throughout the stadium.
“I like this story as it captures the excitement of a special day (the 2018 All Ireland Senior Hurling Final), has lots of details (especially the names of people and places), and includes some Irish. Luimneach Abú!”
— Dr Richard Barlow, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore