Something magical about collecting your first hurley

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Hurling

It began one day, for each of them. We’ll all look in from the outside and make our predictions. Make use of the statistics and the annals to put forward our most solid argument for Kilkenny or Tipperary.

Players, on the other hand, are immersed in the essentials. Living perfection to ensure that come Sunday at 3.30, there are no excuses.

Like a fingerprint, no routine will be the same. Everyone clings to their own perfect build-up.

But one thing shared is the root of the journey. It all began somewhere.

In a society desperate for initiations, the journey to collect your first hurl is one that’s seared in to the soul. The senses are on high alert.

I know where I’m going but I’ve no idea how long it will take to get there. An age I’m sure.

We pull up by the old school house in Crossabeg and walk around the back to Mick Mackey’s hurley shed.

Hand-made sticks of every shape and size are littered about. Linseed oil is in the air.

The imperfection of it all, the rough edges, the saw dust, the cold concrete, the angular face of old Mr Mackey, barely discernible in the din of the shed.

Once the hurl changes possession the memory fades. The lights and the craftsman and the paternal bond of the journey blurs.

It’s about the ash now. A new bond. Limitless potential races through the brain.

Goodbyes are said, coin exchanged, but I’m already in Croke Park. A year’s worth of dreams have already flashed through the recesses.

My father talks about the weight, the grain and the balance. I’m lost in the bond between the wood, the skin and the imagination.

Sunday evening won’t be long telling us who got it right and who got it wrong.

But there’s something magical about where it all began.

Source: Irish Independent – 03/09/2014

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