MORE than once in the recent past, I have charted my ongoing progress — sometimes stagnant — in trying to report on a game at every club GAA ground in Cork.
Currently, the tally stands at 87 — closer to the finish than the start, but still with a lot a long way to go.
Midleton’s ground was one ticked off fairly early, hardly surprising given its prime location in East Cork and the frequency with which championship games between city and Imokilly sides, or all-eastern clashes, take place.
I had taken note of the venue’s name, Clonmult Memorial Park, without ever wondering who or what it honoured. Then, last week, the news carried reports of the commemoration of the centenary of the Clonmult ambush, an incident during the War of Independence in which 22 people died, and the dots were joined.
It wasn’t a cryptic one to decipher, in truth, but there are some other GAA examples where a name or a nickname leaves you scratching your head.
Let’s head north-west from Midleton towards Glanworth, where the hurling club is known as Harbour Rovers.
Now, if you’re thinking that you don’t know of the long inlet that stretches all the way from the sea up to Glanworth, that’s because it doesn’t exist.
A few years back, club member Paul Cotter did provide us with some background, though.
“The most acceptable story is that the area was famous for what were known as “the three trees of Glanworth”, or even more grandly, an arbour,” he said.
It was a fairly popular meeting spot — you’d say to someone that you’d meet them ‘up the arbour’ and really it’s the only logical explanation that it came from that.
“There is an estate in Glanworth now which is called Arbour Mews, so the name still survives to some extent.
“The club has been around since the 1940s and, as far as I can see, it was always Harbour Rovers in hurling.
“Back then, it probably suited clubs to have two separate affiliations.
“The exact reason as how the ‘h’ at the front came to be grafted on is list in the mists of time, though.”
Similarly, players’ nicknames can have unusual origins.
On the Tipperary hurling team, for example, you have Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher and John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer, both monikers with roots in the 1990s.
Bubbles is so-called because he was quite a hairy baby and it followed that his parents began to refer to him by the same name as Michael Jackson’s pet chimpanzee.
Given that O’Dwyer’s team-mate is the kind of forward who makes the players round him better, it’s often assumed that Bonner Maher is named in honour of Cormac Bonnar, but you’ll have noted the difference in spelling.
In fact, the moniker came from soccer and Packie Bonner. Born in October 1989, Maher was not yet five at the 1994 World Cup in the USA.
He was too young to remember Packie Bonner’s famous penalty save from Daniel Timofte in Genoa in 1990, and even though the Donegal man’s powers were waning by ’94, he had a follower in Lorrha, Co Tipperary.
“Packie would have been in the goals for Ireland, that would have been a big deal,” Maher said in an interview.
“I’d be out playing on the lawn, I had light enough oul’ hair on me and I used to get a lot of slagging off my older uncles.
“The grandad said to stop calling me names and just call me ‘Bonner’. It stuck and I have it ever since.
“Everybody calls me it. They ask me is it alright to call me ‘Bonner’.
“Sure it doesn’t bother me, I’ve been called worse.”