2012 camogie team take on 1996 hurling team
THE GAME itself may not have produced a victor.
But it mattered little as the real winner on Saturday last was St. Aidan's Services which benefited from an entertaining contest between the Wexford men of '96 and the three-time defending All-Ireland Senior camogie champions.
With big crowds packed inside Páirc Uí Síocháin in Gorey, the legends of both eras squared off in a muddy battle to raise much-needed funds for a voluntary body that provides comprehensive services for people with a wide range of disabilities, for children with special needs, and for the elderly.
The novel clash was organised by St. Aidan's Garden Centre Rose Sarah Kinsella as part of her fundraising duties ahead of the November 30 contest and was well received by crowd and players alike as the 30-plus competitors fought out a 6-7 to 5-10 tie.
A ceremonial parade of the teams behind the Gorey Pipe Band, followed by the national anthem, got the proceedings off to a traditional start, but that tradition was throw well and truly out the window when the girls of Wexford performed their own version of the New Zealand Haka - a clear attempt to intimidate their nervy opponents.
The men lined up with most of those who started the classic 1996 final against Limerick. Some of the waist lines may have expanded but with experience comes great calmness and that's how the legends played.
On the other side of the field the ladies were missing several regulars, meaning a few ringers, in the guise of Declan 'Skippy' Ruth, our own columnist Tom Dempsey and former boss J. J. Doyle, lined out to boost the numbers.
G.A.A. President Liam O'Neill threw the ball in to start the game before leaving the officiating to Liam Spratt, better known for complaining about the men in black than he is for officiating himself. It wasn't long before the South East Radio commentator drew the wrath of the crowd for booking his own clubmate, Larry Murphy.
Deirdre Codd and Claire O'Connor, fresh from picking up All Stars last week, appeared to be sporting some warmer attire in the guise of fulllength skin-tight pants to keep their legs warm on a chilly afternoon, however, on closer inspections the latter seemed to be simply making a fashion statement with a really thick pair of tights.
The moment of the first-half came when George O'Connor, the only man of '96 who was capable of playing in a gear higher than first, was blocked down, hassled and then dispossessed by Codd who came away with the sliothar and created a goalscoring chance for her side. Player of the opening half must have been Josie Dwyer who gave poor Seánie Flood the roasting of his career as the sides eventually went to switch ends with just a point separating them.
As well as introducing tights to the game, a new form of tackle became prevalent in the second-half as the camogie side used superb game intelligence to get piggy-back rides off the hurlers whenever the opportunity to attach themselves presented itself.
In the end it was Una Leacy who did the damage for the camogie side with four goals, two either side of half-time.
It looked to be enough to claim an historic win but referee Spratt must have had a few words in his ear about the profitability of a replay and blew the whistle as soon as Garry Laffan drilled over a levelling point - a fitting end to a fantastic occasion.