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Kilmaley win a triumph for rural spirit over urban indifference

BY GERRY SLEVIN 1985


The pinnacle reached by Kilmaley’s senior hurlers on Sunday September 8th had more far reaching effects than would appear at first glance. There were the obvious effects. It was their first senior title. It brought to fruition many years of Herculean endeavor and it gave cause for celebration that will reverberate throughout the parish for many a long day.

No matter what the future holds for Kilmaley, the events of September 8th will always stand out indelibly.

Taking a broader look at the significance of this victory one sees it as something that goes back to the very foundation of the Association. It was a triumph for rural spirit, that same spirit which Michael Cusack harnessed and utilized so well when his ideas for the formation of the GAA were being formulated. Cusack, himself a man of the land, a man who realized the worth of the rural people of Ireland, placed his utmost confidence in them for the growth and expansion of his Association.
It is the rural parishes of Ireland that have made the GAA. It is where closely knit communities work and play together that the very essence of what the Association stands for finds expression in the every day life of the people. For them the GAA is a way of life and the interest and commitment found there, contrasts in the main, with the indifference one finds in larger centres of population. Perhaps it is easier to engender enthusiasm among the rural population; perhaps the oneness that exists there serves to bring out a greater spirit of pride than obtains in the larger towns.
One could only have had sympathy for Eire Og on county final day. The club for all the enthusiasm of those within it is similar to clubs in all other counties, where so much opposition and counter attraction exists. There is certainly a commitment among those striving to promote the Association and its ideals but that same surge of emotional pride one finds in a rural club is absent. The cosmopolitan aura which an urban club has to contend with, is bound to be reflected in the attitude of the club and its members. There’s squash, badminton, and lounge bar, television, videos, etc. vying for the attention of the urban dweller. Trying to instill a club pride is not easy and finding support for the cause is even more difficult.
On county final day, the volume of support for Kilmaley was overwhelming. Naturally, the underdog won favor, but for all that, if only half the population of Ennis came out in support of Fire Og, it would have been sufficient to drown out the many who urged Kilmaley on, as though they themselves were born and reared in the parish.
Kilmaley and its GAA club in particular has managed successfully to whip up the enthusiasm of its parishioners. Other parishes can take heart from their achievement; they have fought the good fight and have succeeded.
Meanwhile the larger areas like Ennis will continue their way endeavoring to build up a spirit that will be reflected through success in the future. Their task will not be easy but their day will come. If it doesn’t, the GAA will suffer greatly. But as long as the rural parish as exemplified in what Kilmaley and other rural clubs have done, continues its work, the Association of which we are all so proud will thrive and prosper. Long may it be so.



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