Crokes on Tour - U8s (2013) March on the Marble City

They say the best thing you can do when planning a trip away is make sure the weather is good. Well, on the Monday of the October Bank Holiday weekend, the Sunny South East provided unseasonably glorious weather to go with a wonderful day for the 2013 Kilmacud Crokes Sunday Hurlers.

30 boys, the centre of an entourage of 78 people in total, travelled down to the Marble City to take on the mighty O’Loughlin Gaels of Kilkenny. 29 of the boys togged out, as one of our crew had hurt his head on a hoverboard the previous day and travelled just to cheer on his teammates (and they say hurling is dangerous!).

An early start, and the expected antics on the bus (lead by a 4-foot teddy bear in a Crokes jersey, Bob, who was our mascot for the day) meant the boys got off to a slow start in their first round of games. Given that we were now in the Home of Hurling, it came as no surprise that the skills and intensity of the opposition were a big step up on anything the Crokes under-8s had seen before. After the first set of games our heroes quickly got to the pace of things and gave as good as they got for the remaining 2 fixtures. Boys were knocked down, but they always got up again, and the supporters were very proud of the attitude and skills shown, a result of all the hard work done over the last few years.

O’Loughlin Gaels were superb hosts, with the focus of the morning being on fun and skills. The Crokes boys and coaches left having learned plenty, with the hope of renewing the rivalry in 2022 when O’Loughlins will be invited to participate in our Festival of Hurling in UCD.

Having made our mark on the hurling landscape in the morning, the boys plus parents, grandparents, siblings etc all decamped to the famous Langtons Hotel for some delicious food. Here, the true heroes of the day emerged – the coaches who (were) volunteered to sit with the kids during lunch. The rest of the coaching crew and parents dined in peace - their sacrifice was appreciated.

To round out the day, we then went on a tour of the fabulous Kilkenny Castle, with the dungeons being a particular highlight. Any rumours that an underage team from a Dublin GAA club was then seen playing soccer in the grounds of the Castle will be denied outright.

The bus journey home flew by in a blur of Disney princess songs (not popular!) and wordsearches (more popular!).

All in all, it was a great start to what will hopefully be many trips out of the capital to establish links with our country cousins.

The day wouldn’t have been possible without the organisers Hugh, Anna, Rowan and Nathan, as well as Caitriona (who made sure we never left anyone behind), all the coaches, parents and especially O’Loughlin Gaels.

Roll on 2022!