By Jimmy Rhatigan
All pics: Donal Foley
STRETCHING one’s imagination, it was the day when the mountain came to Muhammad.
The mountain didn’t bring gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh but did amass a wonderful collection of Denarii, predecessors of today’s Euros, which they distributed to charities.
A Denarius was a Roman coin first issued in the third century BC and historians would have us believe that one coin was worth 10 asses, donkeys if you prefer.
The latter, with respect, was not the mode of transport chosen by a brilliant team of workers from Croke Park who enjoyed, or at least were mainly delighted with in a six-hour Blazing Saddles from Croker to our local GAA HQ, Nowlan Park.
A charity spin titled Rollin’ to Nowlan was primarily a fundraiser for the hospice movement, the Jack and Jill Foundation, palliative care and Concern.
But it was also a wonderful goodwill exercise, a welcome bonding of those who build bridges in HQ at Jones’s Road in Drumcondra, Dublin 3.
It was a wonderful gathering of 38 black and amber-clad female and male cyclists who were shown the way to Pennyfatherslot in Kilkenny, yes that’s the postal address of our local hurling HQ, by fellow cyclist, Castlecomer’s Martin Fogarty, hurling development officer with the Gaelic Athletic Association.
Our mat of welcome was the beautiful green carpet of Nowlan Park, so brilliantly fathered and mothered by groundsman John Coogan.
Hurlers, camogie players, local GAA gurus and kindred spirits welcomed the saddle-sore cyclists with the kind of enthusiasm that is usually reserved for the MacCarthy Cup post All-Ireland Sunday.
The Nowlan get-together was warm, wacky and wonderful, epitomising the common bond between urban and rural GAA Ireland and highlighting that the mountain can have just as good a day our here as our hurling folk have when winning in Croker.
The convoy of cyclists arrived at 5pm on what proved to be a Good Friday, a hurling chat, music magic, a display of the small ball game and a challenge to hit the crossbar of a bike with a hurling ball from, 21 yards.
The latter was perhaps the Piéce de Résistance as hurling wonders of another time, Jackie Tyrrell, Kieran Joyce, Michael Rice, DJ Carey, Eoin Larkin, PJ Ryan and Brian Hogan showed off their undoubted talents.
For the record, former goalkeeper PJ proved to be the big shot of the small ball.
Camogie was well represented by current senior stars Shelly Farrell, Katie Power, Denise Gaule and Ann Dalton with the latter winning the crown with two crossbar strikes from five attempts.
It was an occasion of fun and games when the match winners were charities that do brilliant work in keeping society patched together.
The welcoming party included Mayor Michael Doyle, County Counil Chair David Fitzgerald, Eddie Keher, Noel Skehan, Co Board officers Jimmy Walsh, Conor Denieffe, Paul Fitzgerals and Seamus Reade, along with Ned Quinn.
The unbelievably talented local Ó Casáide family of musicians provided foot stomping entertainment. Caroline Clifford was there with a team of young cyclists from Clara and children from Tullogher provided an enjoyable exhibition of hurling skills.
It was what County Board spokesman, oh dear, Jimmy Walsh described as a Mini Fleadh of culture, heritage and music.
The session lasted for an hour. Kevin Sexton, a Croker staffer, said his piece, Jimmy Walsh replied and all were happy that the best made plans of mice and men had hit the spot.
The visiting party stayed in the Ormonde Hotel, spent a time in Langton’s and enjoyed a few well deserved thirst quenchers.
Somebody won by a few pints.
A re-match is promised when our senior hurlers return to Croker in September to collect Liam MacCarthy.