Hurling Up to Boston

TG4 cleared its schedule yesterday for a celebration of hurling that took place from its most traditional heartland to its newest.

The AIB Club Championships are a familiar staple of the sport at this time of year and Semple Stadium in Thurles was home to the first live broadcast of the day as Na Piarsaigh of Limerick won their fourth Munster Club Championship in seven years against Ballygunner of Waterford.

Then it was deferred coverage from Parnell Park in Dublin as reigning All Ireland Champions Cuala, sporting new sponsorship in the shape of Davy, came through easily in their Leinster Semi-Final against St Martins of Wexford.

Attention then shifted west to the less familiar but more striking setting of Fenway Park in Boston for the AIG Fenway Classic featuring two semi-finals and a final back to back featuring Dublin and Galway, Clare and Tipperary in a series of matches played out over three and a half hours before an audience of over 30,000.

There was interest from home in that this was Galway’s first outing since winning the All Ireland in September but any fears they would be rusty were dispelled as they dispatched Dublin under a new management team to set up a final against Clare.

It was the Banner county that came through to win the title but reaction from viewers and on social media was that this was a venture worth watching.

It was created by the Gaelic Players Association, supported by commercial sponsorship through AIG and Aer Lingus and brought to the big stage of Boston’s premier sporting venue by Fenway Sports Management who also seemed pleased with proceedings.

Declan O’Rourke of AIG and Declan Kearney of Aer Lingus were interviewed pitch side by TG4 at halftime in the first match and explained why they were excited to be involved.

“We have 700 staff in Boston and 900 in Ireland so bringing the two together, and bringing this rich taste of Irish sport to Boston has proven to be a real winner,” said O’Rourke.

“Aer Lingus have been in Boston for over 50 years and this was a great opportunity for us to bring customers and friends to see a real sense of what Irish sport is all about,” added Kearney.

The sun shone, the Mayor of Boston was there and clearly enjoying himself and this looks like an exercise that will have a long-term place on the hurling calendar.

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