New hurling podcast attracting interest in the west
By Cian O’Connell
Hurling continues to pepper the conversations on the eve of another Galway Club Championship campaign.
That thirst for knowledge and information is something emerging reporters David Connors and Patrick Earley have noticed on the beat in the west.
Hurling is their chosen sport and the Galway scene remains vibrant with several outfits believing that glory can be attained.
Earley, who works as a freelancer, hurls with Beagh, managed by the highly regarded Brendan Gantley; while the Tuam Herald’s Connors, a St Thomas’ clubman, is now getting involved as a selector with Athenry’s Intermediate team.
Few have such passion and desire for the Galway game, especially on the ground at club level, so this new venture makes complete sense.
“We probably discussed it first about two years ago,” Earley says about the podcast. “It was just talk, we never really acted on it with other commitments. Only for Covid this year I don't know would we have done it either.
“The way fixtures are now, you have so many matches that you wouldn't have been short of work. I myself was out of journalism work since March, but this probably gave us the bit of a kick that we needed to have a look at it, because this is the perfect time to get this thing going.”
During their days in UL Earley and Connors formed a friendship with hurling generally the issue being discussed. “I went back as a mature student so I'd be a bit older and we wouldn't have crossed paths in school,” Connors reveals.
“It just happened to be that two lads from south Galway were in college in Limerick, it was probably word of mouth through a mutual friend. We got chatting and we stayed in touch. We'd be meeting at club matches covering them for the Connacht Tribune and Tuam Herald. It just grew from there.”
Throughout the decades the media landscape has shifted, but one constant most certainly remains in south Galway. Who is shaping up well on the playing pitches of Galway?
“This was always an idea I had in the back of my mind, I definitely think there is a market for it out there,” Connors remarks.
“Club games, in particular, people are fierce curious about what goes on. It is probably the main talk in south Galway: how the match went at the weekend? Whether it is in a pub or after Mass or WhatsApp groups. Who played well? Who was on who? What was the winning or losing of each game?
“At times it can be very difficult to delve into it properly in a match report, be it on the radio or in print. You can't give it the full going over that you would really like to. That is where the idea came from.
“Since we put out the announcement there has been phenomenal feedback. It has been even better than I thought it was going to be. So many people were saying it is such a great idea. There definitely is demand and a market for it, people are crying out for this coverage of the club games. There is nothing out there really to rival it.”
On Saturday an interview with Damien Hayes was the first episode, while on Tuesday the Galway Senior Hurling Championship preview show is eagerly anticipated.
“To have someone like Damien on, who has won four club All Irelands, hurled for Galway, countless county titles, to have him on offering his perspective is great,” Connors admits.
“We would love to get managers and players on too, just to chat to them, how it has been for them. A lot of these stories aren't told about club players. It is very rare that they'd have a sitdown interview unless they get to a county final.
“A lot of these lads could have great back stories, they might have played underage for Galway and there might be a reason why they didn't make the step up, be it injury or travelling.
“These lads have a unique story in their own right, a massive love for hurling. Between Patrick and myself you'd probably have to travel far and wide to meet two lads more obsessed about hurling. Being from south Galway, the both of us, there is nothing really else. That is all there really is.”
Earley continues to receive support with his club manager Gantley offering valuable advice and assistance. “A lot of the lads find it interesting, they enjoy asking me about it, a very enjoyable career to be involved in,” Earley comments about opting to go down the sports journalism route.
“We were looking at approaching Damien about joining the podcast, our own manager this year, Brendan Gantley, he was over Portumna a couple of years ago.
“It was he I approached, about maybe what did he reckon about chatting with Damien for the podcast. He was all for it, he was saying go for it, that it was something we all need. It is nice to have that in the back of your mind, that there was no issue coming.
“It was nice to have a free pass to have a go at it. He knows himself he can trust me, that I won't be saying things about our own matches. That is obviously something we know ourselves and the way to go about it. There will be no issue.”
Connors is similarly modest about his own recent return to GAA involvement with Athenry, where he now lives.
“They won the Junior A in Galway last year, their manager Niall Sunderland approached me, and asked would I come on board, I'm doing a small bit with them, what I'm bringing to the table mightn't be a whole lot, but a different set of eyes,” Connors laughs.
“I'd have an outside perspective in terms of not having any preconceptions about any of the lads either. We have some legendary figures in Athenry playing.
“The two Donoghues, Davy and Shane, Liam Howley, Emmett Caufield, lads involved in All Ireland winning teams. Some of them are 40 plus and still going, they are a great driver for the young lads coming through.
“We have lads that have been involved with county minor panels coming through, to see them lads driving it on in training.”
Ironically Beagh’s Championship opener in the 2020 Senior competition is against Athenry also. “It feels like a totally clean slate,” Earley replies.
“We all have started back at the same time, none of us actually know where we are at. It isn't really until you go out next weekend that you'll see what level you are at. Everyone has that same degree of uncertainty at the back of their minds.
“With club hurling these are your friends you are playing with. When the lockdown was on you weren't seeing these people, even though they were only living a couple of miles away.
“You only realise when you don't have the hurling how important it is. Meeting all your friends, to have that back, in itself, was brilliant.”
So is the fact that matches are imminent. The speculation and debate surrounding the fixtures matters deeply. That is why Tribe Talk should provide a valuable service in the coming weeks and months.