Poc Fada is Irish for "long puck". An All-Ireland Poc Fada Championship which is held annually testing the skills of many of the top Hurling and Camogie players. The current All Ireland Senior Camogie and Hurling Champions are Cork’s Aoife Murray and James McInerney of Clare.
Competitors must puck a sliotar with a hurley (they may lift and strike or hit the ball from the hand).
They play to the top of Carn an Mhadaidh and after a short break continue back down to finish in Aghameen. The whole course measures over 5 Km.
History of Poc Fada
In the summer of 1960 the Poc Fada competition as we know it was born. A course measuring 3 miles and 320 yards (5.12km) was laid out by two men An tAthair Pól Mac Seáin and Oliver Hodgers. The course stretched from An Céide on Annaverna Mountain to fields of the Mills family in Aghameen. Then, in late July a notice was put up in the local Youth Club, Cumann Ógra Naomh Moninne Fatima Dundalk, inviting under-16 hurlers to try out the course. The notice drew a response from six young hurlers, Mal Begley, Damian Callan, Peter Crilly, Seán McAneaney, Jerome McDonagh and Peter Myles. Sliotars were purchased in Woolworths, flags were made from old sheets and all was in readiness for the contest on 8th August 1960. The weather on the day was fine when the competition began however, as the day wore on the rain came down and the wind began to blow hard. By the end of the day the soft sliotars took the shape of miniature rugby balls.
The results were of the very first Poc Fada competition were 1st Damian Callan 115 pocs, 2nd Jerome McDonagh 117, 3rd Peter Myles 125, 4th Peter Crilly 127, 5th Sean McAneaney 134 and 6th Mal Begley 153.
In early 1961 a match was organized between Waterford and Kilkenny to promote hurling in the Louth area. The match was played in Dundalk and at the dinner afterwards the legendary Kilkenny goalkeeper Ollie Walsh was challenged by An tAthair Pol to compete in the “All- Ireland Poc Fada “. Ollie took up the
challenge and the seeds were sown for the first All-Ireland competition later that year. The first All-Ireland winner was a De La Salle Brother Vincent Godfrey originally from Bruff Co. Limerick who hurled with Clan na Gael in Dundalk. The event organizers went to the trouble of creating a scaled model of the course to ensure that participating players fully understood what lay before them. This was the course layout for the years between 1960 and 1969.
The competition was suspended between 1970 and 1980 and when it was resumed in 1981 the competition was played over a new course. The first winner over the new course was Pat Hartigan from Limerick thus completing the double of Limerick men being first winners the competition on the two separate courses.
The new course is 5k in length and has four stages from beginning to end with three turning points, An Céide, Carn an Mhadaigh and An Gabhlan. An added challenge is the ravine on the last leg home which has seen many a dream of victory dashed.
The senior camogie competition was introduced in 2004 and the first winner was Stephanie Gannon from Galway. Then, in 2007 an u-16 competition was included with Aaron Murphy (Limerick) being victorious and in 2015 an under 16 Camogie competition was played with Sarah Healy (Galway) coming out on top.
Consecutive winners of the senior competition were Ollie Walsh (Kilkenny 1962 – 1963, Finbarr O’Neill (Cork) 1966 – 1968, Ger Cunningham (Cork) 1984 - 1990, Albert Kelly (Offaly) 1992-1993, Michael Shaughnessy (Galway) 1994 – 1996, Brendan Cummins (Tipperary) 2006 -2008 and 2011 – 2015. At u-16 level Cillian Kiely (Offaly) 2011-2012 and in camogie Lyndsey Condell (Carlow) 2007-2008 and Patricia Jackman (Waterford) 2009-2015.
Players from a total of thirteen (13) different counties have been winners of this competition, they have hailed from Tipperary, Down, Roscommon, Limerick, Louth, Clare, Wicklow, Offaly, Galway, Tyrone, Waterford, Kilkenny and Meath. This is a true indicator that this unique competition can be won by anyone from any county irrespective of history or status.
The Modern Course 1981 to Present
In 1981 when the All Ireland Poc Fada Championship returned to the GAA Calendar a circuit course was decided upon, as part of the old course was under forestry.
Designed with emphasis given to accessibility and spectators the course incorporated An Céide and Carn an Mhadaigh (turning point 1 to turning point 2 of the new circuit course). A new starting point was found, now known as “An bhFána Mór” and no, it’s not an ancient Neolithic site of stone Circle. Standing stones and dolmen are the purposely built starting and finishing point for the new circuit as well as the entertainment and prize giving area.
The current course is 5 km. The senior men complete the full circuit (4 stages). The Camogie contestants poc to An Gabhlan and back again (2 stages) 2.5 km. the boys u16 poc to An Gabhlan and back again (2 stages) 2.5 km. The course map that is included in this programme has been used each year since the “revival” featuring in the 1981 programme which would have set you back a hefty 15 pence!
The Old Course
The old course came into being when a Poc Fada competition was organized in 1960 for a group of boys from Cumann Ógra naomh Moninne, the youth club An tAthair Pól Mac Seáin helped set up along with the residents of Fatima in Dundalk. The course was measured sometime after that competition (the first Poc Fada) in preparation for the All Ireland Final of 1961. Stretching from the flat-topped Céide on Annaverna Mountain to where the mountain gave way to the fields of the Mills Family in Aghameen the course was measured using a long rope, a distance of 3 miles and 320 yards.
Knowing the exact distance of the course was not sufficient for the organizing committee, to ensure the hurlers got to grips with the terrain in advance a scaled model of the mountain and course was made, available for the competitor’s perusal upon arrival in Dundalk for the final.
Martin Donnelly's myclubshop.ie has sponsored the Poc Fada for 21 years.