Galway and Kilkenny hurlers a hit Down Under
By John Harrington
The Galway and Kilkenny hurlers have already caused a stir in Sydney before a ball has even been pucked in Sunday’s Wild Geese Trophy clash.
A photo-shoot in front of the Sydney Opera House on Friday morning involving Kilkenny duo Eoin Murphy and Conor Fogarty and Galway pair Gearoid McInerney and Niall Burke generated quite a buzz.
A couple of Uruguayan tourists got to puck a sliotar for the first time, a steady stream of ex-pat Irish passed on their best wishes to the players, and a few locals proved surprisingly knowledgeable about hurling and the fact the match is taking place.
Padraig Frewen, a schoolboy from the local St Ignatious College in Sydney Harbour, couldn’t quite believe his luck, proclaiming that Galway are his favourite hurling team.
He and his two friends Finn Lavelle and Aidan Collins took the opportunity to have their pictures taken with McInerney and Burke, and assured the two Tribesmen they’d be at the Sydney Showgrounds to cheer them on this Sunday.
Born and bred Aussies with Irish ancestry, all three were well-versed in the game of hurling and reckoned no indigenous Australian sport came close to it.
“There seems to be a lot of interest in it over here, every Irish person around here seems to be flooding in for the game,” said McInerney, in between photos and conversations with the inquisitive locals.
“It's going to be a really competitive game, no doubt, and it's a great opportunity for both of us to do it in Sydney.
“There's silverware on the line, it's televised, and it will be nice for people to watch it back home. That adds a bit more hype to the game.
“There's definitely a few players in our panel too who are looking to put down a marker. They want to impress the management and get their name in the team on a more regular basis.
“There's huge competition in our panel and that's what it's all about. You need to be biting on the bullet and pushing hard for a place. That's the sort of healthy environment that makes a squad better.”
Sunday’s match is also an opportunity for the Galway players to move on from their All-Ireland defeat to Limerick.
It’s a loss that still stings for McInerney, but he’s determined to use the disappointment as a source of motivation ahead of the 2019 season.
“On the day they did outperform us,” said McInerney. “That's something we just have to live with and hopefully use to make us a better team.
“You have to channel these things in the right way. It is frustrating. You can't just get fully thick afterwards because you have a long season yet with the club.
“You just have to use it for fuel as best as you can for the future. Even if you've lost a Final before you can never prepare for that feeling. It still hurts as much as ever, really, but you just have to get on with it and go again.”