PRESIDENT MARY MCALEESE was met by a crowd of at least five hundred people as she paid what will probably be her last visit to Kilkenny in her official capacity.
The President didn’t leave Inistioge empty handed. During her tour of the new Cois Abhann centre, the first combined GAA club and community centre in Ireland, and the reason for the Presidents visit to Kilkenny. The President was confronted with the Liam McCarthy Cup and the O’Keefe Cup in the home dressing room. President McAleese was presented with a hurl made by local man Tim Kelly. Sean Cummins presented the hurl to the President and told her she can use it for a puck around in the Phoenix park. President McAleese said “It’ll be used for a puck around in the front garden in Roscommon in a few months time.”
The links between President McAleese and Kilkenny hurling were the theme for the day. The Chairman of Rower Inistioge GAA club, Jack Lyng said “The President has been fortunate talisman for Kilkenny hurling. During her 14 years in office Kilkenny have made it to twelve All Ireland finals. A remarkable team and a remarkable President.”
The point of the Presidents visit wasn’t to reflect on the past success of Kilkenny Hurling but to look to the future and celebrate the achievements of a small rural community in providing facilities to improve the quality of life in their towns. The Cois Abhann centre had been in development for almost twenty years. Situated on the edge of the village overlooking the Nore valley the facility will be available for generations to use. The facility is meets the needs of the community and the Rower GAA club. It includes a fully fitted out gym, a number of offices and meeting rooms, a home, away and ladies changing room and a referees changing room on the ground floor. On the upper floor there is a full fitted out kitchen, a small bar and a large function room for community events and classes.
The President told the crowd that gathered to the rear of the “that it was a remarkable thing that the team who as we heard have taken part in twelve of the last fourteen All Ireland Finals. To see that who have taken that cup away four times in a row on one occasion. To think with that legacy behind them the team that walked out on to the hallowed turf in Croke Park. They were as hungry as any other team and more to bring the Liam McCarthy Cup home. It is a remarkable psychological phenomenon. No complacency here just hunger and ambition to be the best and now you have the best of facilities. I’d say the rest of the country is running scared.”