Lifetime memories for Na Piarsaigh GAA families

Lifetime memories for Na Piarsaigh GAA families

“IT was brilliant - it was a perfect day and a lifetime memory,” beamed PJ Breen recalling his sons' journey to All Ireland champions with Na Piarsaigh.

“I think I’ve been involved with U-12s, U-14s, U-16s, minor, U-21 with Brother Philip Ryan and Mick O’Neill and then the seniors first in ‘94 when the issue was to maintain our senior status and bring through young fellas.

“I was out for a while when I got a call from Paddy Verdon in 2011 to go in with Sean Stack and I stayed three years,” outlined Breen of his role.

“I started out going over to the street leagues on a Saturday morning with Kieran and I used to bring the younger fella (David) even though he was two years younger.”

“We were known as the cheapest baby-sitting service in town!” joked Breen.

“That was U-10 and they used to play in a blitz in the Gaelic Grounds. We were getting upwards of 100 kids into the street leagues. Numbers are good to have but we knew it was about bringing through and keeping at least 15 every year. The debate was that we were losing lads at 16-18 years old but we kept working and persisting,” said Breen.

“There were always parents ready to help out but there were the usual few hardy annuals​.”

Another of the ‘hardy annuals’ was Liam Kennedy.

“This is tremendous – the culmination of a lot of work,” said the former Ardscoil Ris teacher and father of goalkeeper Padraic Kennedy.

“They didn’t win a whole lot - Cathall King, Kevin Ryan, David Breen and Padraic would have been hanging in there but there wouldn’t have been a whole lot of hurlers in those years,” he recalled of his son’s Bord na nOg teams.

“They made a goalie out of him – somebody saw he had the skill and eye and he has learned a lot and worked hard - in terms of strategy for puckouts I would see them down in the field with just the half forward line working away diligently,” he explained.

“Hurling kept him here until he got a job in Shannon. He went to the States twice during two campaigns and used to come home (for Limerick and Munster club SHC) and the hurling kept him going and it’s been such a good end.”

What of St Patricks Day?

“When it looked like we weren’t going to lose it, the heart rate wasn’t as high!”

Eilish Downes is proud mother to Kevin and was fulsome in praise of all in the club.

“To see this dream come through after so long it just great - they put so much into it, we are just delighted. I have to be so conscious of all the people that have helped them up along - from the time Kevin started out when he was about four up in the club. There was a real sense of fun and they gave them a love for hurling,” he said.

“The club is very special - it’s so family centred and it’s all the neighbours. I must say we would always have watched the club finals on St Patricks Day and it was always the elite clubs and you never think you will be there

“I had to come home and watch it on television because in lots of way it was hard to believe that we were actually there,” she outlined.

“When I came to Limerick first I live in digs in Drumgoole’s and Noel Drumgoole (one of club founders) was at the early stage of the club and he put so much into it and I am sure his family are so delighted with his achievement.”

Like many dedicated parents, Eilish operated a GAA taxi service.

“I remember one year, when they were laying gas pipes on the road and the workers must have been wondering what I was doing - I was up and down the road nearly every hour.

“I often joked that if we lived close it would be fantastic - living in Coonagh was a little bit too far to walk and it was dangerous for cycling,” explained a proud Eilish.

Now, as the Tommy Moore Cup rests in Na Piarsaigh, all those journeys seem well worth the effort