Sunday 27 May 2018

Association on high after epic summer

John Mullane

ONE thing that has really struck me in recent weeks is how the GAA is thriving.

The association appears to be in a really good place, the dominant force in Irish sport.

I've always regarded the GAA as such, but I don't think we've ever had it as good.

The hurling championship has been spectacular and we had the breakthrough success for Donegal's footballers last year.

Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend the international hurling festival in Galway.

There was a carnival atmosphere around the event and I caught up with two guys from De La Salle, one now based in Dubai, the other in Australia.

Many of the players involved over the weekend were forced to leave Ireland, but it's great that they had the opportunity to come home and represent their adopted clubs.

A high-quality senior final saw two London clubs, St Gabriel's and Kilburn Gaels, battle it out. Kilburn won out in the end and I was fortunate enough to take a training session with the lads in May.

This was the first international hurling festival and I really hope that it becomes an annual event. The people who travelled over are keeping the GAA alive in foreign countries and it's lovely to be able to give something back to them.

The GAA's power surge is in stark contrast to soccer's struggles. The 'beautiful game' is in big trouble at grassroots level and you only have to look at Dublin to realise that this is the case.

In what was traditionally a soccer-orientated town, kids are now walking around with hurls in their hands and the success of the county's senior hurling team has played a big part in that.

Soccer could be on a downward spiral for a while and in my native Waterford, the All-Ireland minor success will give hurling another massive shot in the arm.

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport