50 Years on - Compare and Contrast

Fifty Years On - Compare and Contrast

(by Tom Barry)

 

Paschal Lyng comes from Bennettsbridge, Co Kilkenny.  He attended St Kieran’s College in the Marble City.  In 1950 he won a Leinster Colleges medal with St Kieran’s and an All-Ireland Colleges Interprovincial medal with Leinster.  In 1950 he won Leinster and All-Ireland Minor Hurling Championship medals with Kilkenny and was on his native county’s Junior team in 1952.

 

A full-back, he won a Junior Kilkenny County Championship with his home club in 1951, the year he moved to Dublin to join the ESB as a clerical worker.  Within six months he transferred to the Civil Service where he worked as an executive officer.  Paschal played with Crokes from 1952 until 1968 winning a Dublin Senior Hurling League medal in 1953/4 and Dublin Intermediate Hurling Championship medal in 1963.  For several years during his playing career he was on the club committee and also served a period as club secretary. A one time nine handicapper, Paschal took to golf in 1968

 

Hugh Gannon is from Kilkenny city.  He captained St Kieran’s College to Leinster Colleges victory in 1999.  The previous year he played on the Kilkenny minor team winning the Leinster Championship.

 

He graduated with an Actuarial and Financial Studies degree from UCD in 2003 and won a Fitzgibbon Cup medal in 2001.  A midfielder, he won under 14, under 16 and under 21 Kilkenny County Championships with James Stephens as well as a Feile na nGael in 1994.  He joined Kilmacud Crokes in 2004 and plays with the senior team.  Hugh is a trainee actuary with IPSI Limited in Abbey Street and has yet to take up golf.

 

In this joint interview Paschal and Hugh exchange insights on their hurling times.

Gannon and Lyng.jpg

 

What was your introduction to hurling?

 

Paschal:

 

My first introduction to hurling was at Bennettsbridge National School.  My father was instrumental in setting up the Bennettsbridge club.  We won a Kilkenny Schools League 1944 and many of that team backboned the later hugely successful Bennettsbridge club teams.

 

Hugh:

 

I would credit my father and Matt Ruth.  They’re both from Ballyragget.  Matt played with Kilkenny and Limerick.  When I attended St Patrick’s Boys National School I came under his influence and the James Stephens club used run a very strong Sunday mornings league in which boys from the school took part.

 

Why did you join Crokes?

 

Paschal:

 

It was a big wrench for me to leave Bennettsbridge.  There was a rule at the time you had to go home every weekend if you wanted to play with your home club which would have been very difficult.  The fact my fellow parishioner Ted Kelly and Martin White (of 1930’s Kilkenny fame) were already with Crokes drew me.

 

Hugh:

 

While I was on the James Stephens under 21 team I travelled up and down from Dublin.  When you are travelling it gets harder to make the team.  Preference is naturally given to players who are around more.  It was increasingly hard going so I decided to play in Dublin.  I chose Crokes because I heard great things about it from Hugh O’Connor, a Crokes player in work.  Also I had seen the set up from the All-Ireland Sevens and played against Crokes in the Dublin championship.

 

You’ve both played senior club hurling.  Describe the training regime?

 

Paschal:

 

We trained in Number 13 Ground in the Fifteen Acres in the Phoenix Park.  We trained Tuesdays and Thursdays and on a Sunday morning if we didn’t have a match.  We togged out in a bit of a wood next to the pitch.  After work I would cycle home, have my tea (a solid meal - often a fry or a bit of tripe) and then cycle up from the digs with my team mate Brendan Power.  I was staying in Marino.  On the way home we would often go to a milk bar for a pint of milk and salad sandwiches.  Our training would start around Patrick’s Day and the championship was on during the Summer.  We kept in touch by word of mouth and team lists were published in the paper on the Thursday before matches.  At training we would usually puck around until we had enough for backs and forwards and afterwards we’d do laps.  There was no stretching or warm up and no hurling drills.  The sliothars were made by Lawlors in Kilkenny and were made of leather.  In the wet they got very slippy and heavy.  Sliothars were valued items and if we lost one it was a big deal.

 

Hugh:

 

We have modern dressing room facilities.  We are notified of training and matches by text and email.  This year we started training on 20 February which was probably a little late.  By the end of July we had trained 53 times and played 20 games.  I’ve missed very little.  Early season training under lights on cold nights in wet mucky ground was hard even if a lot of what we did was with the ball.  During the Summer we usually train 2 or 3 times a week with a match at weekends.  Sessions usually start at 7.30 and last until about 9.00 or 9.15pm.  The routine is usually ball drills at speed (which also helps your fitness) followed by a match.  I’m told we have already gone through 120 sliothars this year.  To get to Silverpark I used leave work at 6.15 to get a bus out.  Recently I bought a car.  My main reason for doing so was to make it easier to get to and from training.  I now leave work about 6.00, go home, get the car and drive to training.  Normally I get home about 9.40.  For away games I used get picked up in town by one of the lads who lives near me such as Brian Motherway or Adrian Grogan and be dropped home.  Now I find I’m picking fellows up.

 

What about the “extras” – hurleys, boots, gear, diet, recovery, pool use, injuries etc?

 

Paschal:

 

I used get my hurleys from Neary in Kilkenny.  The first thing you did was put bands and oil on to keep them together.  My boots were made of leather and were heavy with re-inforced toe caps.  They came above your ankles.  You used them as long as they lasted.  To prolong their life you’d rub dobbin on.  The cogs you bought separately and hammered them in.  I never wore headgear nor took any notice of diet.  There was nothing about liquid intake.  I am a life long pioneer so alcohol was never a factor with me.  If you got a knock in a match you might or might not get a rub but basically there was no attention unless it was serious enough for you to be taken to hospital.

 

Hugh:

 

I get my hurleys from Dowlings about a 100 yards from my home in Kilkenny.  I bought twelve for the season at a cost of €250.  I wear short stud boots in the Summer and long stud boots for the rest of the year.  My helmet is Azzuri and I’ve always used one.  As to diet I am careful what I eat.  I eat a lot of salads, fruit smoothies and pasta.  About two hours before a match I’d eat a bowl of porridge which I find very good for energy.  During the season it is very hard to drink and get anything out of training so for most of the year I would take very little alcohol.  On match days I wouldn’t drink any caffeine.  I drink two pints of water before I go to work and top up constantly during the day.  We have access to a pool in work and I usually go swimming three times a week doing 40 lengths each time.  In the Summer I often swim at Seapoint.  With work and study it is very hard to get as much rest and recovery time as you would like.  If I get a knock which needs attention I go to Anne Marie O’Sullivan a physical therapist.

 

What was/is your routine before a big game?

 

Paschal:

 

We played our big games in Parnell Park, Islandbridge, O’Toole Park or Croke Park.  There were great teams in Dublin with lots of intercounty players.  The crowds were big.  Coming up to a big match we would step up training a little bit and you would mind yourself a bit more in the few days before the game.  I had no particular routine on the day of a game.  I often remember Sundays where I would play a game in O’Toole Park or Islandbridge in the morning, be at Croke Park in the afternoon and go to Parnell Park in the evening.  A few had cars.  Like most players my mode of transport was cycling.

 

Hugh:

 

Often big games are on Saturday evenings.  I would get to bed early the two or three nights before and sleep in on the morning.  When I get up I get the paper and when I have that read maybe go for a walk.  I try to time my food intake to suit the match time and takes lots of water.  We usually meet at the venue about an hour before the start and just chat around about anything except hurling.  Like most players I like to put my gear on in a particular order.

 

Who was the most difficult opponent you came across in Dublin club hurling?

 

Paschal:

 

Tony Herbert of Faughs and Limerick.  He was so big and strong.  Even though he was a grand lad he certainly gave me the worst body shaking I ever got.

 

Hugh:

 

Damien Russell of St Vincents is probably the best Dublin player I’ve come across while Stephen Lucey of UCD and Limerick was always tough.

 

The biggest kick from playing?

 

Paschal:

 

Just that I loved the game.  I used love playing matches and everything that went with it.  I’d love to be still able to do it.

 

Hugh:

 

I would have to echo Paschal’s answer

 

Most memorable moment in a Crokes jersey?

 

Paschal:

 

The day we won the Dublin 1953-54 Senior League Final against St Vincent’s.  The game was played in 1957.  We had a great rivalry with Vincent’s and some very hard matches with them.  While we had a few good runs in the 1950’s we had never been able to win a championship and Vincent’s had won a few.  This was a game Vincent’s were expecting to win but we were able to get a lot of our players who had gone away back and turned the tables on them.

 

Hugh:

 

The championship victory over O’Tooles on 29th July this year which we needed to win to keep our championship hopes alive

 

One of you, Paschal, fits the classic player/mentor profile.  Hugh your involvement is almost entirely as a player.  Any views?

 

Paschal:

 

In the Crokes club virtually all the committee were players.  If the players didn’t do it there was no one else.  We didn’t mind and saw it as part and parcel of being involved.  As Secretary the main job was to get things into the county board and team lists to the papers.  It wasn’t as busy a job as I would guess it is now.

 

Hugh:

 

I coached teams while I was in UCD.  That meant my playing career took second place.  I’ve decided to get the most of playing as I can now especially when I am also working and studying.  This year there has been a call on senior hurlers to get more involved with hurling in the club and with younger teams.  I do feel we have a responsibility to keep the club going and this is something we will be focusing on in the coming Winter.

 

What has been your history with injuries?

 

Paschal:

 

I was lucky.  I only had one bad injury – a broken nose in a championship semi-final in Croke Park.  The next day I woke up in the Mater Hospital and missed two weeks work.  From time to time I lost a few teeth and needed stitches.  The whole secret was to get in close and your chances of getting hurt were less.

 

Hugh:

 

I missed two years through illness.  I’ve broken both my big toes and my thumb as well as having stitches from time to time.  When I was about nineteen I was out for six weeks with a groin problem.  On other occasions I have had back and ankle problems.  Fortunately I haven’t had to take time off from work

 

Was/is hurling worth the time and effort?

 

Paschal:

 

No doubt.  It was our life and lifestyle.  We were raised to it.  As a player you just kept going until the body wouldn’t do it anymore.  When all is said and done it is the best game of the lot.

 

Hugh:

 

Absolutely.  Most of the thrills I get I get from hurling.  You get the thrill of achieving something together as a team.  A lot of people have given up competitive team sports by the time they get to my age and they don’t realise what they are missing.  Hurling is part of my make-up as an Irish person and I would feel lost without it.

 

What was/is the single biggest issue facing hurling?

 

Paschal:

 

There are so many other distractions at the moment.  We grew up in an almost protected environment with no television, soccer or money.  Hurling would need a bigger base in other counties.  I can see this happening in Dublin but it is going to take time.  A lot of parents don’t want to see their kids playing hurling because they don’t know what it is about.

 

Hugh:

 

The amount of time it takes to master means it is always going to lose out to sports that are easier to participate in.  Hurling is much more difficult to play “socially” than other sports.

 

If you could change one thing in hurling what would it be?

 

Paschal:

 

What I would be more interested in is how to develop it in other counties. So many things have been tried over the years.

 

Hugh:

 

The over emphasis on inter county hurling to the detriment of club hurlers.

 

Who will win this year’s All-Ireland?

 

Paschal:

 

That’s a rhetorical question

 

Hugh:

 

I’m going to have to with Kilkenny on that one.  If not them I’d love to see Waterford win as they are the best team to watch in the country