Fenway Classic has a future if it pays for itself
By John Fallon
GAA president John Horan says he sees a future for the Aer Lingus Fenway Hurling Classic as long it pays for itself and doesn’t impact negatively on anything else.
Horan was present at Fenway Park on Sunday when Limerick became the third county to win the Super 11s when they defeated Cork 38-30 in the modified game.
The crowd of 12,674 was down on the attendances from last year and 2015 but Horan believes the event will continue and that it’s a good opportunity to reward players as well as spread the GAA gospel.
And he said that Fenway Sports Management are keen to continue and grow the event in conjunction with the GAA and GPA.
“It’s important these things wash their face, that they pay for themselves," said Horan. "That for me is the key thing, and out of that then players get a chance to get a break.
“As someone from Cork pointed out to me, they won two Munster titles and this was the only kind of reward the Cork lads got was the opportunity to come out here for a few days. I’d never begrudge the lads having a break like this for a weekend.
“I was at the original one in 2015. I know the crowd was considerably bigger then.
“Fenway Sports are very keen to keep this going and the critical thing from our point of view is that it is washing its face and it is not taking money away from any of the clubs or the development programmes we are carrying out,” said Horan.
The matches were broadcast live in Ireland by TG4 and to a large audience on NESN in the United States and Horan said it is an event which strengthens the ties with the Irish diaspora, many of whom are unable to travel home and never get to see or meet the top GAA players.
“The games went well, they were quite competitive. Limerick came through in the end and they had the disadvantage of playing in the second semi-final but you could see the crowd bought into it in a big way.
“It’s a good opportunity for the players to come out here and mix with the Irish community out here.
“I was out in Canton on Saturday morning where Limerick trained and they did a meet and greet with the locals that’s key that we meet in with the local GAA out here and that’s where I see the big benefit.
“It’s a chance for them to meet the stars, many of them can’t go home, and as I always say at home as an amateur organisation our stars are very touchable in the sense that you meet them in your local club or local shop and they are not like the professional stars who have become nearly icons at a distance,” he added.
Sunday’s win crowns a fantastic year for Limerick. They never trailed in the final, having come from behind to beat Wexford 53-45 in the semi-finals. Cork booked their place in the final with Patrick Horgan scoring 20 points as they dethroned Clare by 42-37.
Limerick manager John Kiely said his squad really enjoyed the experience.
“It’s been a great year for us and this trip has been a bonus. The lads have really enjoyed it, it has been a great experience. It’s been great too for the Irish people living here. They get the chance to meet the players they have been watching all summer,” he said.