Tipperary priests are celebrating “the golden age of hurling” after its county’s players were crowned All-Ireland champions over the weekend.
Hurling enthusiast Fr Vincent Stapleton, who attended the match in Croke Park which saw the Tipperary senior hurling team beat rivals Kilkenny 3-25 to 0-20, said he was “over the moon” about the home win.
“People are describing the last decade as the golden age of hurling, because you had Limerick and Clare and a few others win the All-Ireland. It’s alive and well around us. There’s not a huge amount for young people, and it’s one thing in our own parish that gives them a sense of longing for something bigger,” the Thurles-based priest said.
While it’s tempting to pray for a victory for personal reasons, Fr Stapleton said that God’s providence isn’t bound up in our desires.
“Lots of people would say we need you to get him over the line. As a glib kind of answer, what I say to people is: ‘I don’t pray to make the world good for me, I try to pray to make me good for the world.’ That’s the way prayer works, not just to get whatever you want,” he said.
He added that while the game instils discipline, the amount of time sacrificed to succeed can cause strain on relationships. “I’d like to see it remain as sport and play and not to be taken so seriously.”
The homecoming event for the team was held in Thurles’ Semple Stadium on Monday night, with thousands of fans turning out to wave their flags of support.
“It was a great victory, they played exceptionally well throughout the course of the game and through the course of the championship,” said retired hurler Fr Tom Fogarty.
The former Tipperary hurling manager added that the Irish sport “unites the community”, noting that two weeks before the main match bunting is displayed across the county.
“It really taps into people and brings people together, and that’s the great thing about sport. It does bring people together…this victory is a big boost to the clubs in Tipperary too because that’s where the hurlers come from,” he said.