Saturday 16 December 2017

Just not cricket

Sir -- Dion Fanning's paean of praise for the cricketing skills of Eoin Morgan (Sunday Independent, March 7, 2010), raises the connection between prowess at hurling and cricket. Although they are what he terms "stick sports" (that should also include hockey, lacrosse, and polo), the two games are very different in temperament. Hurling is a much more adventurous game -- fast and furious with a fairly simple scoring system. Cricket has become hidebound with rules, with a scoring system ideal for a trainee derivatives trader.

Mr Fanning mentions the connection between cricket and hurling in the mid-19th century. In Co Galway, "faction fights" were popular until the 1870s. These were recreational fights in a county where cricket was confined to the Big House and Galway Grammar School, and consisted of one gang of men armed with cudgels going to beat another gang of men until superior force ruled the day.

The advent of hurling and football was welcomed by landlords and clergy who both saw the benefits of organised sports over the savagery of faction fights. Edward Carson played hurling at Castle Ellen near Athenry in the 1870s, while on vacation from college. Many years later, older people recalled his great enthusiasm for the game and he tried to start a "hurling club" at Trinity College. There is no mention of him playing cricket. Perhaps the skills honed on the playing fields of Athenry made for his forensic skills as an advocate and lawyer?

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