St Patrick's Gearoid Hegarty carries the Liam mMacCarthy cup to a reception at the Club | Picture: Dermot Lynch
LIMERICK County Board has taken a stand against the Irish drink culture by effectively refusing Liam MacCarthy entry to local pubs.
And the bold move by Limerick GAA to ban the MacCarthy Cup from being taken on tour in public houses has been described as “setting a great example for the young people of Ireland,” by a leading addiction specialist.
“Ultimately, the priority is that the cup is taken to the clubs and schools. There was no alcohol at the big screen on All-Ireland final day or at the homecoming at the Gaelic Grounds either. These are family occasions and it’s about setting an example for youngsters,” said Mike O’Riordan, secretary of Limerick County Board.
The MacCarthy Cup hasn't been inside one pub since its arrival to Limerick & the plan is to keep it that way.— Áine Fitzgerald (@AineFitzgeraldA) August 30, 2018
Every effort is being made to get it to every club & primary school in the county in the coming weeks & months.
Respectful and responsible approach by @LimerickCLG pic.twitter.com/2BEuWDX3Al
Since its return to Limerick soil after a 45 year wait the precious silverware has visited numerous clubs and schools throughout the county and city.
While there are 66 clubs in Limerick only a small number have bars in the clubhouses including Na Piarsaigh, Ahane, Claughan, Fr Casey’s and Ballybrown.
Mr O’Riordan admitted the cup has been taken to clubhouses for the celebrations but there has been a deliberate attempt to avoid engaging in the time-honoured tradition in other counties of filling the cup with alcohol in pubs, bars and clubhouses and passing it around for locals to enjoy a swig from the precious silverware.
According to sources the cup has been seen during the celebrations in one public house in the county “but not many more than that”.
“The name of the same pub keeps cropping and there was a small number of photos on social media but, in fairness to the county board, the cup hasn’t been doing the rounds on a grand scale in the pubs,” he added.
Sr Agnes Fitzgerald who runs Cuan Mhuire addiction centre in Bruree, known as Bruree House, has praised Limerick GAA on their “respectful and responsible” stance saying “the last thing I would want to see associated with the cup is alcohol.
“The first thing I would say is I am absolutely delighted about the achievement by the Limerick hurlers. Needless to say, the last thing I would want to see associated with the cup is alcohol.
“I think it is a great stance Limerick GAA have taken and it’s a great example for the young people of Limerick and Ireland.”
According to Sr Agnes -who is working in the area of addiction for the past 36 years, the power of the message being sent out by the county board and the players should not be underestimated. Since the Limerick Leader broke the news on Twitter of the stand being taken, the tweet has received hundreds of retweets and over a 1,000 likes, with former Cork star Tomás Mulcahy and current Limerick star Sean Finn among those to show their support.
“These players, these young people who have achieved greatness, are role models for the younger generation and if these role models are saying this is what they stand for then that’s a great message for the young people. I haven’t come across a sporting organisation sending out a mass message like this before and I am delighted they are doing it. They are marvellous young people and people will go by what they say because they are role models.”
Sr Agnes was particularly pleased to hear reports that some players have refused offers of cans of cider while signing autographs for children, stating they didn’t think it was appropriate at the time.
“I have no problem with drink in moderation once people know how to handle it, it’s when people have the illness of addiction it is devastating for any family. While addiction affects the person who has the illness, not infrequently if affects the family even more. It is extremely difficult for children to have to visit their mother or father in a treatment centre but how much more difficult it must be for them to come home from school to a parent who is intoxicated.”
There was great celebrations in Cuan Mhuire after the win as two of the players’ family members work in the Bruree centre.
“Breda Quaid, Nickie’s mother, is a staff member and Ciaran Carey, former Limerick star and uncle of Cian Lynch is an addiction counsellor with us,” said Sr Agnes.
Meanwhile, the Limerick hurling team, management and members of the county board enjoyed a private reception at the home of Limerick GAA sponsors Noreen and JP McManus in Martinstown on Sunday night where the MacCarthy Cup took pride of place.