Hurley’s return to field an encouraging sign for all Leeside supporters

Hurley’s return to field an encouraging sign for all Leeside supporters
Brian Hurley at his unstoppable best against Nemo in 2013. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/SPORTSFILE

IN terms of the scoreline, Castlehaven won’t remember too fondly their Carbery JAFC defeat to O’Donovan Rossa in Rosscarbery on Saturday evening.

The men from Union Hall and Castletownshend went down on a 1-7 to 0-9 scoreline against their great rivals from Skibbereen, but beyond the bare facts the game held a greater significance.

After a two-year period in which he suffered two serious hamstring injuries, with only a short return in between, Brian Hurley was back in a Haven jersey again, kicking two frees and cheering many a GAA fan in West Cork, the county as a whole and beyond.

Castlehaven's Brian Hurley is tackled by Clyda Rovers' Ray Carey and Niall O'Mullane. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Castlehaven's Brian Hurley is tackled by Clyda Rovers' Ray Carey and Niall O'Mullane. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

At a time when Cork footballing fortunes leave quite a bit to be desired, the possibility of Hurley featuring again is an exciting one – a fully-fit Hurley, Paul Kerrigan and Luke Connolly coming into the attack would certainly give Ronan McCarthy’s team an extra dimension, but it’s important that optimism is tempered.

The road back from injury is a long one, as Hurley is all too aware. Earlier this year, he told website Pundit Arena about the moment when the hamstring went for a second time, in a league game against Béal Áthan Ghaorthaidh.

“My head was nearly worse than my leg after a minute,” he said, “I couldn’t concentrate, there were people around me. I held onto the hamstring, but I knew it was gone.

“It was the worst moment of my career. That was rock bottom there. I knew straightaway. I was bawling my eyes out.

“I worked my balls off for the last nine months. I had written down every session in a diary. And for that all to be thrown away, just like the nine months before, where do you go from there?”

Everybody involved will know how important it is to take things slowly and, at 26, Hurley still has a lot of time on his side.

At his best, he is a matchwinner, with his virtuoso performance in the 2013 county final win over Nemo Rangers one that will remain long in the memory.

We wish him all the best in his continuing recovery, fingers crossed that he can once again terrorise defences for both club and county.

Club-wise, it was rather quiet, with just six county championship games played, including the Erin’s Own-Bride Rovers game to kickstart the senior hurling competition.

With so many dual clubs playing football the previous week, it was only fair to allow them a week off ahead of next weekend’s busy hurling schedule, so there were quite a few county league games down for decision.

Mention of the league brings us to Monaghan and an innovative approach to their secondary competition.

With input from former GAA director general Páraic Duffy, the Drumlin County have come up with a new system to take cognisance of the fact that county players are missing for so many league games. With 18 games scheduled, players on the Monaghan panel will be available for nine, which will count for five points, whereas the nine without county players will count for the usual two points.

Previously, three or so of the 18 fixtures would be what are known as ‘starred’ games, in which county players didn’t feature, with clubs then having to squeeze six games into a three-week period, but the new set-up should allow for a more evenly spaced campaign. It will be an interesting one to follow to see if other counties take inspiration from it.

Also on the club scene, one benefit of the club-only April has been the allowance for TV coverage. On Sunday, TG4 showed Na Piarsaigh against Doon in the Limerick SHC and then the clash of Liam Mellows and Castlegar in Galway, something which has only in the past been done in the latter part of the year, after the county season is over.

We’ve said it many times before, but TG4’s coverage is so easy to take for granted, given the quality and the regularity, but it deserves huge praise for constantly striving for innovation.

One of the new features this year is showing replays of scores in a smaller picture on the screen while providing a goalkeeper’s-eye view of a puck-out or a kick-out. Long may they continue to set the bar high.


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