Hurling & Camogie

Cavan and Fermanagh clash can prove that hurling is omnipresent

Conor McGurk Cup Round 1 preview

Fermanagh celebrate at the end of the Lory Meagher Cup Final between Fermanagh and Cavan at Croke Park Dublin 07-31-2021. Pic Philip Walsh.
A win is a win: Fermanagh celebrate at the end of the Lory Meagher Cup Final between Fermanagh and Cavan at Croke Park Dublin 07-31-2021. Pic Philip Walsh.

The black cars pull out of the public eye and into a secluded car park. Out step the suits, suggesting some level of professionalism in the midst of barbarity.

The cigars symbolise the ease at which some men do what others couldn’t even envisage. Not if they tried.

“They hand me Solozzo!”

“I don’t wanna hear this. This is business, not personal.”

“They shot my father.”

“Even the shooting of your father was business, not personal Sonny!”

“Well then business will have to suffer.”

In The Godfather and in life, it’s a juggling act. The people prosper, the business suffers. The business prospers, the people suffer.

A few weeks back, the GAA dipped their toes in the treacherous waters of elitism, with five counties threatened with exclusion from the Allianz Hurling Leagues from 2025.

Louth's Feidhleim Joyce lifts the Lory Meagher Cup in 2022. A CCCC proposal wants the removal of five counties from the NHL in 2025 Picture: Philip Walsh.
Louth and proud: Louth's Feidhleim Joyce lifts the Lory Meagher Cup in 2022. A CCCC proposal wanted the removal of five counties from the NHL in 2025 Picture: Philip Walsh.

In the end it was almost a full blown coup d’état. The head of Italian violence and the heart of French republicanism in a revolt against the hurling equivalent of “let them eat cake”.

A cynical mind could envisage the crooks of the GAA world parking up their automobiles in the other end of town. The Tattaglias, plotting to ruin lives and puffing their cigars all in one devious swoop.

Leitrim manager Olcan Conway was a figurehead of sorts, the Sonny Corleone with the aid of the brother Michael, the brains of the operation, the GPA.

“There are real, practical solutions here that don’t involve killing hurling in Leitrim for the sake of saving money. And make no mistake, that is what the CCCC proposal is all about.”

In the end, the u-turn came just as we all had hoped, and probably knew.

And now comes the start of a new season, and hopefully some bedrock in the stability of a future of the game.

The foreseeable future takes the shape of the Conor McGurk Cup. Cavan, Fermanagh, and Louth are three of the others who were on the hit list.

Kingspan Breffni will be the venue on Tuesday night when the former pair clash. Clash they will, an outburst of anger and poetry that typifies the game of hurling.

You can be sure there will be a statement to say: We are good enough. We are here to stay. We are hurling, just like all the rest.

Louth, the oddballs of an otherwise all-Ulster tournament, haven’t got far to travel to Cloghan in County Monaghan.

And with them will be new manager Trevor Hilliard, only recently retired from the white and blue in a season that saw him claim a county title as well as the Lory Meagher success in Croke Park.

Elsewhere, Armagh will be without the services of Nathan Curry for the first time since 2008 as they take on Derry in Owenbeg.

And the opening round’s final clash sees reigning champions Antrim, minus Domhnall Nugent and a quartet of Dunloy clubmen, tip down to Garvaghey to face Tyrone.

All fixtures are on a knockout basis, with Queen’s University, Ulster University, Donegal and Down awaiting in the quarter-finals on January 9.

Conor McGurk Cup

Round 1 (All fixtures January 2)

Monaghan v Louth

Cloghan, 7.30pm

Derry v Armagh

Owenbeg, 7.30pm

Cavan v Fermanagh

Kingspan Breffni, 7.30pm

Tyrone v Antrim

Garvaghey, 7.30pm