A time to remember everyone

By the time we engaged with Ned Quinn, chairman of Kilkenny GAA Board, he had answered every conceivable question he felt was out there.

By the time we engaged with Ned Quinn, chairman of Kilkenny GAA Board, he had answered every conceivable question he felt was out there.

Now that was a lot of questions! Despite his protestations, we head-butted our way through his reluctance to get the view of a man who has been at the top of the organisation locally during its greatest times ever.

With a guarded reservation he acquiesced to our pleading with a remark to the effect that there was not a single question left to which he had not provided an answer on numerous occasions.

Undaunted we thought that we would travel a different landscape just for the purpose of being different, and hopefully a little invigorating.

The winning of an All- Ireland hurling final by Kilkenny resonates with a greater population spread than the GAA clubs and members. The entire life of the county visibly fattens on the reflected glory, the attention it draws and the togetherness that comes from major achievement?

“In brief, you are perfectly correct with your statement,” he agreed.

“But to understand that, one has to look back on the history of hurling, and in particular the history of hurling in Kilkenny to understand why the game has become so much a part of life for so many families.

“From the outset, hurling is so much an integral part of the DNA of Kilkenny people, and that lasts from the cot to the grave.”

Commercial help

To depart from the game itself and all that entails, hurling is this county is a major contributor to the life-style, and the commercial life of the county.

Would you like to comment on that?

“I absolutely concur with that statement,” he agreed again.

“Often I feel that due acknowledgement is not attributed to that fact. In the first instance, Kilkenny overall is now a brand. There is absolutely no doubt that hurling is more than a small segment of that brand.

“Kilkenny has developed a tremendous capacity of doing things well. In the many aspects that Kilkenny has developed its tourism industry, and the magnificent way in which Kilkenny City has grown its world-wide magnetism as a thriving, vibrant, iconic Medieval City, they stand as testament to the excellence abounding right around our county. And hurling has been a major element among the things that have made our City and county thus.”

One would be well aware of the debate within ’Council Chambers, and elsewhere, about acknowledging the hurling contribution, be it monumental or an artistic impression hanging in a prominent public place.

“Personally I would love to see a modern, high-tech interpretive centre on hurling available to the public somewhere amenable to all,” said the proud Mooncoin man.

“This great, uplifting game of ours has earned massive esteem, recognition and honour for our county and it deserves nothing less.”

Ned took time to reflect!

The county enjoying halcyon times presently, hitherto never surpassed or even equalled, but the ghosts of bygone greatness should never be forgotten either?

“Brian Cody and the wonderful men of the Brian Cody era will always be huge in Kilkenny’s hurling history, and unquestionably what is our greatest hurling era,” Mr Quinn insisted.

Never forget

“But we must never forget the past, because as I see it, from day one Kilkenny hurling started out on a journey in which we enjoyed exhilarating success, many troughs of disappointment, great highs of euphoria, but it is very important to remember the players of the past. In years to come the present great men will be remembered with due regard and respect.

“People will use terms like golden era and so on. For us, the thrill is living through the making of history.”

Speaking about looking back, All-Ireland final day is an emotional one. It is a day to reminisce, a day to remember absent friends. You are a strong believer in the Kilkenny diaspore, and what it means?

“Undeniably All-Ireland final day is all of those things,” he agreed. “Firstly I will remember my father who brought me to my first All-Ireland final in 1957. What do I remember of it? Very little!

“I remember coming back through Crettyard and Castlecomer which were on fire. I think of people who cannot be there because of illness, or old age. I think of the many emigrants that I know and have met on our travels who cannot be in Croke Park.

“I think of them all from New York to San Francisco, from New Zealand to wherever we met Kilkenny men, miles from where they would love to be on September 7.”

There you are, a different angle on the All-Ireland!