Cheering on their clubman Gearoid Hegarty ahead of the match on Sunday
HISTORY is set to be made on Sunday, as for the first time, a member of St Patrick’s GAA Club in Limerick city will play in Croke Park on All-Ireland final day.
There is immense pride in Rhebogue, as members of the city’s oldest GAA club – founded in 1886 – prepare to cheer on right-wing forward Gearoid Hegarty, who is expected to be named in the starting line-up as Limerick go in search of a first All-Ireland crown since 1973.
The Anglers Walk club is rightly proud that one of its own sons will play a part on Sunday, and has erected signs at the nearby Parkway Roundabout.
“Words can’t describe how proud we are of Gearoid,” said Mark Phelan, the club’s public relations officer. “You could always see he was a leader, and he was pushing for higher standards.”
Hurling is in the 24-year-old’s blood, with his father Ger an Old Christians man that contested the 1994 All-Ireland final with Offaly, as well as lifting the Cross of Cashel trophy back in 1987.
There are now high hopes in the area that Gearoid, a teacher by profession, can go one better than his father.
“There will be nobody left in Rhebogue on Sunday,” said staunch Limerick fan Hammy Dawson.
“Every man, woman, child and dog is heading up. We’re all cheering on Gearoid and Limerick!”
Kyle Mullins, 15, is one of four Mullins brothers who have lined out for St Patrick’s. He was trained in both hurling and football by Hegarty, who has played for both the hurling and football panels, before settling on the small ball.
“It’s brilliant. He played under-age with my brothers and he was one of the best. It’s great he gets his chance. He is one sound man.
“He’s not cocky in himself – he says ‘well’ to everyone. He passes no-one,” said Kyle, who predicted a massive eight-goal win for Limerick this Sunday.
Wayne Cronin, 28, Gearoid’s captain at club level, will miss the trip to Croke Park.
He is making the ultimate club sacrifice, working on All-Ireland final day, in order to secure days off for St Patrick’s this autumn.
“He is a fabulous young player and he deserves everything he is going to get for Limerick. Hopefully hey are going to win on Sunday,” he smiled.
Mark said although St Patrick’s in more recent years, has been better known as a Gaelic football club, its hurling heritage remains strong.
“Six years ago, we won the Junior title and Gearoid was a huge part of that. Hopefully, we can build on this. The younger players, seeing Gearoid play, can see that playing with St Patrick’s, it means that it is achievable that they can play with Limerick,” he told the Limerick Leader.
“Everyone is excited. We are all hoping for a big win on Sunday,” smiled Philip Doyle, the club’s vice-president. Some 70 children took part in Cul Camps at the club’s ground this week.
Among them were eight-year-old Sean Hendrick, from Lower Park in Corbally.
“They’re going to win! I reckon by four points. I like Aaron Gillane. I love the way he is taking frees. And I love Gearoid of course,” he smiled.
Kate Collopy, also 8, and from the St Patrick’s area, said: “My favourite player is Gearoid. I think Limerick will win by five points this Sunday afternoon.”
In a previous interview, Gearoid said that he threw many of his father’s hurling medals out of the window of their home in Rhebogue when he was young.
One would imagine he would be more careful if he is in possession of an All-Ireland winners medal after Sunday!