IF ever you needed proof of the importance of hurling in rural north Kerry, then ask any of the 100 or so guests who gathered in Lixnaw's Railway Bar on Saturday night to honour the men who brought minor championship glory to the village in 1963 and 1965.
1963 winning captain, Patrick McCarthy, couldn't have summed up the joint celebration better when he described it as a night he will cherish forever.
Patrick travelled from London for the event and said he was thrilled to catch up with old team mates, some of whom he hadn't seen for years.
"It has been a glorious evening getting to meet the lads from 50 years ago," he said. "Unfortunately I left Ireland in 1964, but that made tonight's reunion even more special. I want to thank the club most sincerely for tonight. I will cherish it for the rest of my life."
Patrick's former team mate on the 1963 panel, John Costello, also loved reminiscing about that glorious victory, which he found difficult to believe was 50 years ago.
"It has been a wonderful night and one I will never forget. Every player has been made to feel so special," John said, having made the trip from his home in Limerick. "The past 50 years have gone by very fast so it's been great to reminisce with old friends about our minor successes."
The event was the brainchild of Lixnaw clubman Tim Joe O'Connor, who thought it fitting to honour both teams together, given that at least seven members of the 1963 winning panel went on to further glory two years later. Each wining player was presented with personalised certificates acknowledging their achievement, among them Eamon Fitzmaurice Snr, who won the title both years, and Jimmy Galvin - father of Kerry football star Paul - who played on the 1963 winning team.
Also honoured at the event were five deceased members of the minor winning teams - Mike Galvin, Tom O'Connell, Mossy Deenihan, Joe Daly and Mickey Barrett - who were represented on the night by their families.
"We had players come back from Limerick, Mayo and Dublin, and of course Patrick and Bryan (Keane ) who made the trip from London, so it was a tremendous night for the club," Lixnaw chairman Sean Flaherty said.